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.
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