Nigella Lawson denies stashing cocaine in hollowed-out book and tells court 'that regular cocaine users do not look like this'

TV chef tells court: “If you want to put me on trial, put me on trial”

Media Editor

The reality of the home life of the “Domestic Goddess” Nigella Lawson was laid bare on Thursday as the television chef told a court: “If you want to put me on trial, put me on trial.”

During her second day in the witness box at the fraud trial of two of her personal assistants, Ms Lawson was subjected to detailed questioning over the scale of her drug use.

She denied allegations by the defence that she kept a supply of the Class A drug cocaine in a hollowed out book in the home she shared with former husband Charles Saatchi, the reclusive art dealer. “I promise you regular cocaine users do not look like this,” she told the court. “They are scrawny and look unhealthy. If you think I’m going to sabotage my health and leave my children as orphans, you are very wrong.”

Francesca Grillo and her sister Elisabetta, also known as Lisa, are accused of using credit cards loaned to them by the television cook and her ex-husband to spend £685,000 on themselves.

During a day in which Ms Lawson repeatedly clashed with the lawyers who questioned her, her domestic arrangements came under intense scrutiny.

The cook, who said that her ex-husband “likes to have control over every element”, said she was only permitted to hold dinner parties twice a year.

“I was not happy about that. I can hardly remember a dinner party at Eaton Square,” she said, referring to the couple’s home in central London. “In all my time there, there were very, very few. Mr Saatchi likes to take people out to Scott’s restaurant.”

Scott’s was the London restaurant outside which Ms Lawson was photographed this summer, being held by the throat by her ex-husband. That episode was “part of the reason” for their subsequent divorce, she said.

The court heard that, despite being married to one of Britain’s best-known cooks, Mr Saatchi liked to breakfast every day on burnt toast and weak tea. When Ms Lawson asserted “I would make Mr Saatchi breakfast,” Karin Arden, defending Francesca Grillo, responded: “I suggest that would be a very rare occasion.”

Ms Lawson said her ex-husband “didn’t want me washing up”. The art collector would send the Grillo sisters out to get his favourite Frappucino drinks and the personal assistants would also be “very involved in the purchasing of Mr Saatchi’s eggs”, which were ordered from Waitrose and delivered by Ocado.

Ms Arden asked the television cook if Francesca Grillo had not done much of the food shopping. “I do a fair amount myself,” protested Ms Lawson.

“This is no criticism of you as a domestic goddess,” said Ms Arden.

The couple's home had a “silver room” filled with tea services, candlesticks and trays. Ms Arden said silver cleaners visited once or twice a month and charged £400 per visit. Ms Lawson disputed this, saying that “mostly the silver looked awful”.

When Ms Arden suggested that she probably did not clean the silver herself very often, Ms Lawson said: “I do like cleaning silver and cleaning shoes. I find it incredibly therapeutic.” She will complete her evidence on Friday.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links