Nigella Lawson evidence: Scotland Yard review shows this is a test of police’s attitude to celebrity drug use

Scotland Yard had initially said it would not take action but would review the decision if new evidence came to light

Police are to review evidence following TV chef Nigella Lawson's admission in court that she took cocaine.

Nigella Lawson must have been hoping that the end of the fraud trial involving her former PAs would allow her to escape allegations of drug-taking at the home she shared with her ex-husband Charles Saatchi. So she would have been disappointed to pick up the papers on Sunday to find that her courtroom admission that she used cocaine and cannabis is further to be investigated by Scotland Yard.

Despite initially signalling that there would be no criminal inquiry, the Metropolitan Police has now said Ms Lawson’s evidence will form part of a review carried out with prosecutors. The force said it was seeking to “clarify its position” following media questioning over its handling of the case. It said: “A specialist team from the Metropolitan Police Service will examine the evidence emerging as part a review into this matter, in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service, to determine an appropriate way forward.”

The apparent U-turn follows comments by one of the force’s most senior officers, Commander Stephen Watson, who said in an interview that police will study the transcripts of the trial to examine the “implications” of her testimony. Ms Lawson could be questioned by detectives and asked where she got her drugs, while social services might also want to discuss claims that illegal substances were used in front of children.

At Isleworth Crown Court, Ms Lawson admitted taking cocaine on seven occasions – six times with her late husband John Diamond after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and once during the break-up of her marriage to Mr Saatchi in 2010.

Scotland Yard said there was “no imminent prospect” of a prosecution against Ms Lawson after the senior investigating officer in the case was advised by lawyers that, without further corroboration, her admissions did not provide sufficient evidence to proceed. In Britain the prohibition of drugs is based on their possession, not their use. It is also unusual for a witness who incriminate themselves during a trial to be prosecuted.

Danny Kushlick, of the charitable think-tank Transform, which campaigns on drugs policy, said further action would not be in the public interest. “Celebrities are going to get it in the neck but I don’t think there is any sense that celebrities are more likely to be let off. In this case she has not been caught in possession. There is no evidence so there is no chance of a prosecution,” he said.

However, the police have acted in the past when celebrities have been the subject of media stories of alleged drug abuse. In 1999, the veteran BBC DJ Johnnie Walker was fined £2,000 after admitting using cocaine when he was the subject of a tabloid sting by the News of the World.

In 2005 the then Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair revealed he was involved in the decision to investigate Kate Moss following allegations of drug use published in the Daily Mirror. She was questioned under caution by detectives. The sisters Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo were found not guilty of fraud, and Ms Lawson claimed the case was part of a campaign to destroy her reputation and said she was unable to rebut the allegations made against her in court.

Her lawyers assert that no evidence was offered to suggest her drug use went beyond that to which she had admitted and that no witnesses claimed to have seen her taking drugs. One of the key planks of the defence case was an email written by Mr Saatchi in which he suggested that his former wife and another member of the household were “so off your heads on drugs” that the PAs were able to spend the couple’s money unchallenged. The defence claimed that Ms Lawson had allowed the spending to cover up her cocaine use.

Giving evidence, however, the 70-year-old advertising guru distanced himself from the email, describing it as a “nasty statement” and admitted that he had never seen Ms Lawson taking drugs.

Ms Lawson meanwhile issued a statement on Sunday that said: “I will survive this and move forward. I just want to focus on family life and work.”

It was reported that the Grillos are reported to be planning to sue Ms Lawson and Mr Saatchi for defamation following their acquittal.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions