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.