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Nigella Lawson Admits to Cocaine Use and More News

Nigella Lawson Admits to Cocaine Use and More News


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In today's Media Mix, a large tip for Thanksgiving workers, plus CDC on restaurant workers

The celebrity chef testified earlier this week.

Check out these headlines you may have missed.

CDC Launches E-Learning Course: The CDC is hoping to train restaurant workers to improve sanitation conditions with an e-learning course. [ABC Radio]

Pay-What-You-Want Method: A restaurant in China, which follows a "pay-what-you-want" method," has lost some $41,000, thanks to one-fifth of the customers who do not pay for anything. [Raw Story]

Diner Tips Entire Restaurant: A woman dining alone on Thanksgiving left $835 in tips, with $50 for the two bartenders, and about $15 for every other worker. [Consumerist]

Nigella Lawson's Confession: While testifying in a fraud case, the celebrity chef was forced to admit to cocaine and pot use, although Lawson claims to have not touched cocaine since 2010. [LA Times]

Calvados vs. Alvados: French calvados makers are getting upset over Finnish knockoffs with similar names like alvados or verlados, harming calvados exports, they claim. [Beverage Daily]


Nigella Lawson in Court: Chef Admits to Taking Cocaine and Smoking Cannabis, But Says She Is Not a "Habitual Drug User"

Mirrorpix / Splash News

Nigella Lawson admitted that she has used cocaine and cannabis while testifying on Wednesday, Dec. 4, during the fraud trial of her former assistants, Francesca Grillo and Elisabetta Grillo.

Per Central News, the English celebrity chef told the Isleworth Crown Court in London, during her extremely detailed testimony, that she has used cocaine several occasions in her life, including six times when her first husband, John Diamond, was battling cancer.

"One time was when my husband knew his cancer was terminal, and he was introduced to it by a friend who thought it would help," she told jurors about one episode of using the drug.

"I did on maybe six occasions and joined in with him—it was a small amount," she added. "It gave him an escape, but I didn't want an escape because I had to look after him and the children."

The 53-year-old then explained she used the drug in 2010 because "I was having a very, very difficult time, I was being subjugated to intimate terrorism by Mr. Charles Saatchi." She said she visited with her doctor following this incident.

"I concluded that I did not have a drug problem, I had a life problem, and I needed to attend to that and I did seek out a therapist," Lawson revealed.

When asked if she was an addict, she slammed the claims as "absolutely ridiculous."

"I have never been a habitual drug addict or abuse," she said.

As far as other drug use, Lawson testified that she has smoked cannabis "relatively recently" and in front of her two children, but added she had only used drugs once during her 10-year marriage to Saatchi in July 2010.

She also admitted in court that Saatchi has "savaged her reputation" and instead of a trial against their former employees, she has been put her on trial for false drug allegations.

This claim comes on the heels of Saatchi accusing his ex-wife in an email, heard in court, of being "so off her head on drugs" that she gave the Grillo sisters permission to spend unlimited amounts of money, as well as the Grillo sisters claiming they were authorized to freely use Saatchi's company credit card in exchange for their silence regarding her alleged drug use. Lawson flatly denied these allegations while testifying.

The Grillo sisters, who worked for Lawson for more than 10 years, are on trial for allegedly defrauding the couple out of more than £300,000 ($484,600) while under their employment. They deny the accusations.

"I have been put on trial here where I am called to answer—and glad to answer—the allegations and the world's press, and it comes after a long summer of bullying and abuse," she said.

The TV personality admitted her resistance to testifying in court, and said that the 70-year-old art dealer threatened her in a letter that he would "destroy" her if she did not clear his name.

The court was shown photographs of the alleged choking incident between Saatchi and Lawson, which show him apparently gripping her throat as they dined at a London restaurant in June.


Nigella Lawson admits to using cocaine 'a handful of times'

Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson admitted Wednesday in a U.K. court that she had taken cocaine a handful of times. But she denied habitually using illegal drugs and accused her ex-husband of spreading that allegation to savage her reputation.

Lawson said ex-husband Charles Saatchi, a wealthy art dealer and advertising mogul, had threatened to destroy her if she did not clear his name after he was photographed gripping her throat outside Scott's restaurant in London, a widely published image that was soon followed by a divorce.

"He told everyone that he was taking cocaine out of my nose at Scott's when he knows that is a lie," Lawson said, testifying at the trial of two former assistants accused of fraudulently using the couple's credit cards.

Lawson, 53, appeared as a prosecution witness at the fraud trial of Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, longtime employees who worked as nannies, cleaners and assistants in the couple's home.

Coverage of the trial has focused more on the couple's failed 10-year marriage and their tempestuous home life than on allegations that two women working for them were living the high life at the couple's unknowing expense. Defense lawyers for the employees have suggested that Lawson ignored the Grillos' lavish expenditures in return for their silence about her drug use.

Known for her sensuous TV manner and "domestic goddess" image, Lawson said Saatchi had spread "false allegations that I was a habitual user and drug addict" who snorted cocaine daily.

"People who do that are a lot thinner than I am," she said. "I have never been a drug addict. I have never been a habitual user."

Lawson said she taken cocaine half a dozen times with her first husband, John Diamond, while he was dying of cancer. And she took it once again in July 2010 at a time when "I felt subjected to acts of intimate terrorism" by Saatchi.

"A friend of mine offered me some cocaine and I took it," she said. "It completely spooked me."

Lawson also said she had "smoked the odd joint" starting in the last year of her marriage to Saatchi.

She said she had been reluctant to testify in court because she had already been subjected to a campaign of "bullying and abuse" from Saatchi, whom she divorced in July following the throat-grabbing incident.

"He said to me at the start that if I didn't go back to him and clear his name he would destroy me," Lawson said.

"He started spreading false allegations of drug use," she added. "I have been put on trial here . and in the world's press."

The Grillos — sisters from Calabria in southern Italy — are accused of using credit cards loaned to them by Lawson and Saatchi for household expenses and then more than $1 million on luxury clothes, accessories and visits to high-end hotels.

Lawson told a jury at Isleworth Crown Court in London that Elisabetta Grillo had been "a rock" who helped her overcome the trauma of her first husband's death in 2001. But she said the 41-year-old Grillo — known to the family as Lisa — has left her family feeling betrayed.

"I loved Lisa. My children loved Lisa," said Lawson, who had showered Grillo with gifts, including a 7,000-pound set of false teeth. But she said her employee's behavior became increasingly bitter and unkind to Lawson's children.

Lawson was read a list of expenditures by the Grillos, including nights at luxury hotels and purchases from Yves St Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana and Chanel. She denied authorizing them.

"It's very difficult when you find out that someone you have loved and trusted could behave in that way," Lawson said, her voice breaking. "In my heart of hearts I do not believe Lisa to be a bad person. But I believe her to have not a very strong moral compass."

Lawson appeared composed but tense as she was questioned about her marriage in often testy exchanges with defense lawyer Anthony Metzer.

"I don't see why my marriage is pertinent to you," she snapped.

She said she had treated the Grillos like family, but disputed the lawyer's claim that Elisabetta Grillo was a surrogate mother to her two children.


Nigella Lawson admits drug use, says ex-husband 'savaged' reputation

Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson said she has used cocaine multiple times in her life but called claims that she was a drug addict "absolutely ridiculous" when she testified in a London court Wednesday in a trial involving two of her former personal assistants, who are accused of spending exorbitant amounts of her family’s money.

Lawson told jurors she used cocaine six times when her previous husband, John Diamond, was terminally ill with cancer, and admitted to using it in 2010 while she was with her second husband, advertising mogul Charles Saatchi, according to Central News UK's CourtNewsUK service.

She said she was offered cocaine by a friend during a difficult period in her marriage with Saatchi in July 2010.

"I was having a very, very difficult time,'' she said, according to CourtNewsUK. "I was being subjugated to intimate terrorism by Mr Saatchi."

Italian sisters Lisa and Francesca Grillo are accused of spending nearly $1.15 million over nearly five years by abusing credit cards linked to the personal account of Lawson’s ex-husband, advertising mogul Charles Saatchi. The Grillo sisters, who worked for Lawson for more than 10 years, have denied the accusations and allege that Lawson, 53, abused cocaine, marijuana and prescription drugs regularly and let them spend the money as long as they kept her secret.

Lawson denied the accusation that she was a "drug addict or habitual user" of cocaine in court Wednesday and said that while she was very generous to the sisters, including buying one a new set of teeth and getting them a membership to a nightclub, there was no authorization for them to spend large sums.

She testified that she used cocaine with Diamond when he was dying from cancer.

"One time was when my husband knew his cancer was terminal, and he was introduced to it by a friend who thought it would help,'' she said, according to CourtNewsUK. "'And I did on maybe six occasions and joined in with him — it was a small amount. It gave him an escape, but I didn't want an escape because I had to look after him and the children."

Saatchi, 70, testified that when the sisters’ accusations of Lawson’s drug use came to light, he asked other household staff and his daughter about them. He testified that he believed “Nigella had a severe cocaine habit that stretched back a very long time. She took this, and cannabis, and she shared it with her children, for a very long time.”

Lawson admitted to smoking marijuana "relatively recently" and in front of her children, but said she has since stopped, according to CourtNewsUK. She claims that July 2010 was the only time she used cocaine in her 10-year marriage to Saatchi and that she sought counseling afterward.

"I concluded that I did not have a drug problem, I had a life problem, and I needed to attend to that, and I did seek out a therapist,'' she told the jurors, according to CourtNewsUK.

She also holds Saatchi responsible for spreading what she says are false accusations. The two divorced after an incident in June in which photographs showed Saatchi holding Lawson by the throat outside a restaurant.

“I have been put on trial here,’’ she said. “It comes after a long summer of bullying abuse, and I find it like another chapter in that.”

Lawson also spoke out about the incident at the restaurant.

"Charles told everyone that he was taking cocaine out of my nose,'' she said, according to CourtNewsUK. "But what actually happened was that somebody walked by with a very cute baby in a stroller and I said, 'I am so looking forward to having grandchildren,' and he grabbed me by the throat and said 'I am the only person you should be concerned with — I am the only person who should be giving you pleasure.' That is what happened."

Saatchi sent her a scathing email in October, calling her “Higella,’’ and writing, “I could only laugh at your sorry depravity. Bravo, you have become a celebrity hostess on a global TV game show and you got the pass you desired, free to heartily enjoy all the drugs you want, forever.” However, Saatchi added that he had never personally seen evidence that Lawson was taking any drugs.

Allegations of substance abuse by Lawson were made on a blog following the incident outside the restaurant.

“The allegations on the blog were dedicated to salvaging Charles' reputation and destroying mine,’’ Lawson told the court, according to CourtNewsUK. “He said to me that if I didn't go to him and clear his name, he would destroy me, and also started spreading false allegations of drug use and in particular the awful incident in Scott's. I felt his way of getting this out was to use this case.

“These allegations appeared in a PR blog that had been dedicated to salvaging Mr. Saatchi's reputation and savaging mine. I felt that this would not become a fraud case, I would be put on trial, and actually that is what has happened.”

Lawson added that Saatchi’s lawyer sent her a threatening letter when she indicated she may not testify at the Grillos’ trial, CourtNewsUK reported.

“He had said to me if I didn’t get back to him and clear his name, he would destroy me,’’ she said.

Lawson's attorney told the court that she and Saatchi paid Francesca $45,920 a year and Lisa received $41,000 a year, but that between 2008 and June of 2012, Francesca had spent more than $951,000, while Lisa spent more than $172,000 during the same time frame. Lawson added that she was “flabbergasted” when she learned the extent of Francesca Grillo’s spending. She also became visibly upset when asked about Lisa Grillo, according to CourtNewsUK.

“It was very difficult when I found out that someone who I trusted has behaved in that way,’’ Lawson said. “In my heart of hearts, I did not believe her to be a bad person. I would have done anything for her.”

Lawson testified that Lisa had been a “rock’’ for her when her first husband, John Diamond, became terminally ill with cancer, but that Lisa became “bitter’’ and treated Lawson’s children poorly when she worked for Lawson and Saatchi.

“She was not at all hard-working towards the end and most of the time she was on Facebook,’’ Lawson said. “I do not think her bitterness was towards me personally — I think it was towards her life.”

While Lawson occasionally gave the sisters gifts, she said she was clear about what they were authorized to spend.

“I was very, very careful not to say something was unauthorized if there was even a flicker of doubt,’’ she said.


'Grabbed by the throat'

Ms Lawson said Mr Saatchi "told everyone" he was taking cocaine out of her nose after he was photographed holding her neck at Scotts restaurant.

She claimed the incident was actually sparked when she commented on a person walking past with a baby.

"I said 'I'm so looking forward to having grandchildren'."

"He grabbed me by the throat and said 'I'm the only person you should be concerned with'."

Ms Lawson told the court she smoked cannabis in the last year of her marriage to Mr Saatchi.

"I found it made an intolerable situation tolerable. It's a false friend and not a good idea.

"I have to say, since freeing myself from a brilliant but brutal man, I'm now totally cannabis, cocaine, any drug-free."

She said she did not know how to roll a cannabis joint but had asked others in her house to do so.

"This was not behaviour I'm proud of," she added.

Mr Saatchi was unaware that she was smoking cannabis, she told jurors, before admitting that she had not told him that she had taken cocaine once during their marriage.

"I felt by going to my GP I didn't feel a need to tell him."

Ms Lawson said Elisabetta was aware she had taken cocaine in the past, but said claims that credit cards and envelopes containing white powder were left around the home she shared with Mr Diamond were "completely false".

She admitted that Mr Diamond used rolled-up notes to take the drug.

"John did but he carefully ironed them out," she said. "There is some misery you cannot escape."

Ms Lawson said she was not a "habitual drug user and drug addict, or a snorter of cocaine for 10 years".

Asked by Anthony Metzer QC, representing the Grillo sisters, where the drug claims may have come from, Ms Lawson replied: "I believe some of it came from your clients and Mr Saatchi - not the three most reliable witnesses."


Lawson, Celebrity Chef, Admits Cocaine Use, but Denies Ex-Husband’s Claims

LONDON — Nigella Lawson, the celebrity chef, acknowledged in court on Wednesday that she had taken cocaine and other drugs from time to time. But Ms. Lawson said she was not the kind of habitual user that her former husband, the advertising executive Charles Saatchi, had described in a private email.

In a trial involving the sorts of public humiliations of celebrities that keep the British tabloids functioning, Ms. Lawson, 53, was compelled to admit under oath to illegal drug use, but insisted that Mr. Saatchi, who made millions in advertising and fancies himself an art collector, was trying to destroy her by spreading rumors after he was photographed squeezing her nose and gripping her by the throat at a London restaurant. She said that Mr. Saatchi, 70, had subjected her “to intimate terrorism.”

The two divorced in July, soon after the photographs were published.

Her testimony came in the fraud trial of the couple’s personal assistants, two Italian sisters, who charged thousands of dollars in personal purchases to Mr. Saatchi’s credit cards. The women, Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, deny the charges. Their defense lawyers have said that they were given free rein to spend as they liked in a deal with Ms. Lawson to remain silent about her drug use.

Mr. Saatchi, who called Ms. Lawson “Higella” in an email revealed in court, had testified that he regretted sending the email and that he had never seen Ms. Lawson use drugs.

Ms. Lawson, who married Mr. Saatchi 10 years ago after her first husband, John Diamond, died of cancer in 2001, testified that she first took cocaine with Mr. Diamond when he was terminally ill. They used cocaine together six times, she testified, saying, “It gave him some escape.”

She took cocaine again in July 2010, when she was having “a very, very difficult time,” she said, and “felt subjected to intimate terrorism by Mr. Saatchi,” as she called her ex-husband in her testimony. She said she felt “isolated” and “just unhappy.”

When a friend offered her cocaine, she said, she took it, adding that she had smoked marijuana from time to time in the last year of her marriage to Mr. Saatchi. Not knowing how to roll a marijuana cigarette, she asked others in the well-staffed household to do it for her. “This was not behavior I’m proud of,” she said.

Image

But, she insisted, “The idea that I am a drug addict or habitual user of cocaine is absolutely ridiculous.” She said she felt as though she, and not her former assistants, were on trial at the Isleworth Crown Court, even though she was appearing as a prosecution witness.

Ms. Lawson is a daughter of a former chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson, and sister of a former editor of the weekly magazine Spectator, Dominic Lawson.

She described her marriage to Mr. Saatchi as a kind of hell. “I have to say, since freeing myself from a brilliant but brutal man, I’m now totally cannabis, cocaine, any drug-free,” she said. “I don’t have a drug problem,” she added. “I have a life problem.”

Ms. Lawson said that Mr. Saatchi was on a campaign to “ruin me in any way” and had a compulsion to “get her, I don’t care what it takes.” She called him a control freak, saying, “I think he likes everyone to do what he wants.”

The marriage collapsed after the British tabloids published photographs of the couple’s fight at an outside table at Scott’s Restaurant. She said the fight was not about drugs but took place after she said that she looked forward to having grandchildren. “He grabbed me by the throat and said: ‘I’m the only person you should be concerned with. I am the only person who should be giving you pleasure,’ ” she testified. The police cautioned Mr. Saatchi after the photographs emerged.

“He told everyone that he was taking cocaine out of my nose at Scott’s when he knows that is a lie,” Ms. Lawson said, adding that regular users of cocaine “are a lot thinner than I am.”

The Grillo sisters are accused of using household credit cards for personal spending on vacations and luxury items totaling about 685,000 pounds, or more than $1.1 million. Ms. Lawson said that she had trusted the sisters and had given one of them a set of false teeth worth £7,000.

Ms. Lawson showed considerable composure during her testimony but sparred with Anthony Metzer, the defense lawyer for Elisabetta Grillo. At one point she snapped, “I don’t see why my marriage is pertinent to you.”


Nigella Lawson admits to using cocaine, but insists she’s no addict

According to Court News UK, Lawson, testifying in the fraud trial of two of her former personal assistants, said she used cocaine six times while with her late husband John Diamond (who had terminal cancer) and then used the drug again in July 2010 during a difficult time in her marriage to her second husband, British businessman and art dealer Charles Saatchi.

“One time was when my husband knew his cancer was terminal, and he was introduced to it by a friend who thought it would help,’' said Lawson. “And I did on maybe six occasions and joined in with him — it was a small amount. It gave him an escape, but I didn’t want an escape because I had to look after him and the children.”

Lawson’s drug use came up in the trial because sisters Lisa and Francesca Grillo, the two former assistants on trial, claiming the chef agreed to allow them to spend the couple’s money on shopping sprees and luxury hotels as long as they kept quiet about her drug use. Saatchi, her ex-husband, also testified that he knew of his wife’s “severe cocaine habit.”

Lawson admitted to using drugs but denied giving the assistants authorization to use the family’s personal credit cards to make extravagant purchases. The sisters, who worked for Lawson for more than 10 years, are accused of spending more than $1 million in five years.

Lawson and Saatchi made headlines this year when pictures were taken of Saatchi with his hands around Lawson’s neck.


Denies allegations of habitual drug use

Known for her sensuous TV manner and "domestic goddess" image, Lawson said Saatchi had spread "false allegations that I was a habitual user and drug addict" who snorted cocaine daily.

"People who do that are a lot thinner than I am," she said. "I have never been a drug addict. I have never been a habitual user."

Lawson said she taken cocaine half a dozen times with her first husband, John Diamond, while he was dying of cancer. And she took it once again in July 2010 at a time when "I felt subjected to acts of intimate terrorism" by Saatchi.

"A friend of mine offered me some cocaine and I took it," she said. "It completely spooked me."

Lawson also said she had "smoked the odd joint" starting in the last year of her marriage to Saatchi.

She said she had been reluctant to testify in court because she had already been subjected to a campaign of "bullying and abuse" from Saatchi, whom she divorced in July following the throat-grabbing incident.

"He said to me at the start that if I didn't go back to him and clear his name he would destroy me," Lawson said.

"He started spreading false allegations of drug use," she added. "I have been put on trial here . and in the world's press."


Nigella Lawson admits cocaine use

LONDON (AP) — Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson admitted Wednesday in a U.K. court that she had taken cocaine a handful of times. But she denied habitually using illegal drugs and accused her ex-husband of spreading that allegation to savage her reputation.

Lawson said ex-husband Charles Saatchi, a wealthy art dealer and advertising mogul, had threatened to destroy her if she did not clear his name after he was photographed gripping her throat outside Scott's restaurant in London, a widely published image that was soon followed by a divorce.

"He told everyone that he was taking cocaine out of my nose at Scott's when he knows that is a lie," Lawson said, testifying at the trial of two former assistants accused of fraudulently using the couple's credit cards.

Lawson, 53, appeared as a prosecution witness at the fraud trial of Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, longtime employees who worked as nannies, cleaners and assistants in the couple's home.

Coverage of the trial has focused more on the couple's failed 10-year marriage and their tempestuous home life than on allegations that two women working for them were living the high life at the couple's unknowing expense. Defense lawyers for the employees have suggested that Lawson ignored the Grillos' lavish expenditures in return for their silence about her drug use.

Known for her sensuous TV manner and "domestic goddess" image, Lawson said Saatchi had spread "false allegations that I was a habitual user and drug addict" who snorted cocaine daily.

"People who do that are a lot thinner than I am," she said. "I have never been a drug addict. I have never been a habitual user."

Lawson said she taken cocaine half a dozen times with her first husband, John Diamond, while he was dying of cancer. And she took it once again in July 2010 at a time when "I felt subjected to acts of intimate terrorism" by Saatchi.

"A friend of mine offered me some cocaine and I took it," she said. "It completely spooked me."

Lawson also said she had "smoked the odd joint" starting in the last year of her marriage to Saatchi.

She said she had been reluctant to testify in court because she had already been subjected to a campaign of "bullying and abuse" from Saatchi, whom she divorced in July following the throat-grabbing incident.

"He said to me at the start that if I didn't go back to him and clear his name he would destroy me," Lawson said.

"He started spreading false allegations of drug use," she added. "I have been put on trial here … and in the world's press."

The Grillos — sisters from Calabria in southern Italy — are accused of using credit cards loaned to them by Lawson and Saatchi for household expenses and then spending 685,000 pounds (more than $1 million) on luxury clothes, accessories and visits to high-end hotels.

Lawson told a jury at Isleworth Crown Court in London that Elisabetta Grillo had been "a rock" who helped her overcome the trauma of her first husband's death in 2001. But she said the 41-year-old Grillo — known to the family as Lisa — has left her family feeling betrayed.

"I loved Lisa. My children loved Lisa," said Lawson, who had showered Grillo with gifts, including a 7,000-pound set of false teeth. But she said her employee's behavior became increasingly bitter and unkind to Lawson's children.

Lawson was read a list of expenditures by the Grillos, including nights at luxury hotels and purchases from Yves St Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana and Chanel. She denied authorizing them.

"It's very difficult when you find out that someone you have loved and trusted could behave in that way," Lawson said, her voice breaking. "In my heart of hearts I do not believe Lisa to be a bad person. But I believe her to have not a very strong moral compass."

Lawson appeared composed but tense as she was questioned about her marriage in often testy exchanges with defense lawyer Anthony Metzer.

"I don't see why my marriage is pertinent to you," she snapped.

She said she had treated the Grillos like family, but disputed the lawyer's claim that Elisabetta Grillo was a surrogate mother to her two children.

"My children do not need a surrogate mother," she said.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Nigella Lawson admits to cocaine use

Celebrity cook Nigella Lawson told a court she had taken cocaine several times including when being subjected to “intimate terrorism” by her millionaire ex-husband Charles Saatchi, in the latest dramatic twist in a trial that has gripped Britain.

A well-known TV star and author in Britain and the United States, Lawson also told the court on Wednesday she had smoked cannabis occasionally in the final year of her marriage to art dealer Saatchi but had “never been a drug addict or abuser”.

“I don’t have a drug problem, I have a life problem,” said Lawson, nicknamed the “Domestic Goddess” after the title of one of her best-selling recipe books.

The 53-year-old was testifying at the trial of two of her personal assistants who are facing fraud charges relating to the alleged misuse of 685,000 pounds ($1.12 million) on a credit card belonging to Saatchi’s company.

Last week the assistants’ defence counsel said there was a tacit understanding they could spend what they liked as long as they did not tell anyone about Lawson’s drug use. They deny the fraud charges. The court has also heard Saatchi wrote Lawson an email in which he accused her of being “off her head” on drugs.

Lawson said on Wednesday she had taken cocaine on six occasions with her first husband, journalist John Diamond, as he was dying of throat cancer in 2001.

“It was a small amount but it gave him some escape,” said the cook, who is due to feature as a mentor and judge in U.S TV cooking competition show “The Taste” in the new year, on Walt Disney Co’s ABC network.

She said she also used the drug in July 2010. “I was having a very, very difficult time,” Lawson said. “I felt subjected to intimate terrorism by Mr Saatchi,” she said.

“I would say with some shame that I (also) smoked the odd joint in the last year of my marriage (to Saatchi). I am now totally drug-free,” she added.

Lawson and Saatchi, 70, ended their 10-year marriage in July, and he accepted a police caution after newspapers published pictures of him with his hands around his ex-wife’s neck at a London restaurant a month earlier.

The fraud case has exposed the bitter rows between them, once one of Britain’s most famous couples. Interest in the case has also been stoked by the extent to which the assistants allegedly treated themselves to lavish purchases on the credit card and the drug allegations levelled at Lawson.

Flanked by police officers, Lawson arrived at at Isleworth Crown Court in west London on Wednesday to a barrage of flashlights and TV arc lights from jostling media crews from around the world.

Earlier in court, she accused Saatchi of threatening to destroy her with false drug allegations. She said she had been reluctant to give evidence because of such allegations, which she said followed “a long summer of bullying” from Saatchi.

“I felt this would not become a fraud case and I would be put on trial and that is what happened,” she said. “But I’m glad to answer the allegations here and to the world’s press,” she added.

Lawson told the jury that following the “awful incident” at the restaurant in June, false allegations of her drug use began circulating on what she called a PR blog.

Those allegations, she said, had been “dedicated to salvaging Mr Saatchi’s reputation and destroying mine”.

She told the court her reluctance to give evidence in the trial had angered Saatchi. “He had said to me if I didn’t get back to him and clear his name, he would destroy me,” she added.

The court had previously heard that Saatchi wrote her an email in October in which he said the two assistants on trial, Italian sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, would be able to beat the fraud charge because of her drug use.

“I can only laugh at your sorry depravity,” he said in the email, which was read in court. “Of course now the Grillos will get off on the basis that you . were so off your head on drugs that you allowed the sisters to spend whatever they liked.”

In court last week, however, Saatchi said he had no proof that his ex-wife had ever taken drugs. “Are you asking me whether I think that Nigella truly was off her head? Not for a second,” he said.

The court has been told by the prosecution that in the four months to June 2012 alone, Francesca Grillo, 35, spent an average of 48,000 pounds per month and 41-year-old Elisabetta 28,000 pounds.

At various times during the four years to which the charges relate, the court has heard, the sisters spent lavishly on flights to New York, hotel stays, designer handbags and clothes.

Lawson told the court Elisabetta was a stalwart who had helped her through the death of Diamond. She said the fraud allegations “broke our heart” when revealed to her and Saatchi.


More On This.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said privacy laws meant it was "not at liberty to discuss an individual's processing." It said U.S. authorities may refuse passengers admission for various reasons, including drug use and "moral turpitude."

The agency said 366 people a day were refused entry to the U.S. in 2013, of almost 1 million daily travelers.

Lawson, author of "How To Be A Domestic Goddess," has had a turbulent year in which her personal life was scrutinized in the media.

In July she divorced art collector Charles Saatchi after he was photographed grabbing her throat outside a London restaurant.

In December she testified at the fraud trial of two former aides, and told the court she had used cocaine a handful of times. She denied claims by the defendants that she was a regular drug user.

"I promise you . regular cocaine users do not look like this," said Lawson, who is known for her voluptuous figure.

Police later said they would not be investigating Lawson.

Lawson's co-host on "The Taste," chef Anthony Bourdain, tweeted that he was "absolutely mortified with embarrassment over the cruelty and hypocrisy of U.S. actions" over Lawson's travel.

Bourdain told The Associated Press in an email that Lawson was "the most focused, non-party, sober person I know. How this could happen — to her, of all people — is beyond me."

A spokesman for Lawson declined comment.

She is not the first British celebrity to fall afoul of U.S. immigration officials. In 2008 the late singer Any Winehouse, who had a marijuana arrest and well-publicized problems with alcohol and drugs, was refused a visa to perform at the Grammy Awards.

Singer Lily Allen was denied a visa the same year, shortly after she was arrested over an altercation with photographers.


Watch the video: Nigella Lawson: My Life in Six Objects. Women We Love. The Pool (July 2022).


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