Martha Stewart pleads for legal aid

Martha Stewart, the jailed celebrity homemaker, has filed a claim with her company for $3.7m (£2.85m) for help with her legal bills.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, which Stewart founded and still controls through her majority stockholding, said in a filing that Stewart submitted a claimrelating to her defence against the charge that she made false and misleading statements intended to influence the price of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia stock.

Federal Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum threw out that charge before Stewart's trial was concluded in March.

But a jury found her guilty of lying to investigators and obstructing justice related to an inquiry into her sale of ImClone Systems stock in December 2001, before damaging news about the company became public.

The company's filing said Stewart and the company have agreed in principle to submit the question of whether she is entitled to the money to an independent expert on Delaware law, where the company is incorporated.

Stewart is serving a five-month sentence at a minimum security federal prison in West Virginia, although she is appealing against her convictions. She is due to serve five months of home detention once she is released from prison.

Stewart, 63, gave up her titles as chairman and CEO of her company after her conviction, but she is still listed as chief editorial and media director. She has said that she plans to return to the company.