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
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee