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Nigella denies ‘regular cocaine use’ at PA trial

Nigella Lawson arriving for her second day of evidence at Isleworth Crown Court. Picture: Getty

Nigella Lawson arriving for her second day of evidence at Isleworth Crown Court. Picture: Getty

  • by CATHERINE WYLIE
 

CELEBRITY chef Nigella Lawson told a court, “If you want to put me on trial, put me on trial”, as she repeatedly denied being a regular cocaine user.

Ms Lawson, who has admitted using cocaine and cannabis in the past, denied stashing the class-A drug in a box containing her late husband’s wedding rings, as she gave evidence in the fraud trial of two former personal assistants.

She said: “I promise you … regular cocaine users do not look like this. 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.”

Giving evidence for a second day at Isleworth Crown Court, the TV cook said she had “never knowingly” met a drug dealer and never exchanged money for cocaine.

She said: “In my life, I’m reliable, professional and calm. I have no sense of being a drug taker of a habitual nature. I have owned up to drug use. If I was taking cocaine and cannabis to the extent you say, I wouldn’t be standing here.”

As questions of her drug use continued, Ms Lawson, 53, said: “I really feel if you want to put me on trial, put me on trial. I don’t feel it is right to have me here as a witness for the Crown and treat me like this.”

She had earlier admitted taking cocaine while living with her late husband, John Diamond, and her ex-husband, Charles Saatchi.

Her personal assistants, Francesca Grillo, 35, and her sister Elisabetta, 41, are accused of abusing their positions by using a company credit card to spend more than £685,000. The sisters deny the charges, saying they were allowed to spend by Ms Lawson to cover her use of drugs.

Karina Arden, representing Francesca, accused the TV chef of “very regular use of cocaine” which “escalated in the last five years”.

“That is categorically not the case,” Ms Lawson replied. “My GP has seen me over a period of ten to 12 years and he would know if these allegations held any truth.”

She denied she kept cocaine in a hollow “fake book” alongside jewellery given to her by her mother and two grandmothers.

The jewellery box also contained wedding rings she exchanged with Mr Diamond, including one he received after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, the court heard.

Ms Arden put it to Ms Lawson that her daughter and a friend had discovered the box containing cocaine and called Francesca Grillo, who “tried to make up some sort of excuse to cover your back”.

“No, I have never heard that,” she replied.

Ms Lawson said it was “completely wrong” to suggest she frequently came downstairs at home with white powder on her face or had a constant runny nose. However, she admitted once joking about having a “cocaine habit” with a staff member as she applied make-up.

Jurors were previously read an e-mail sent to Ms Lawson from Mr Saatchi in which he said the sisters would “get off” on the basis that she was “so off her head” on drugs she allowed them to “spend whatever they liked”.

Earlier, Ms Lawson accused her multi-millionaire former husband of “peddling” stories about her alleged drug habit, including that he was checking her nose for cocaine when he was photographed gripping her throat outside Scott’s restaurant in central London.

Ms Lawson said one of the reasons she did not start libel proceedings against him was because she “can’t afford it”.

She said: “I don’t have a substantial fortune. I feel this is my last connection with him. I don’t appreciate being bullied and I have been bullied.”

She said she was “not proud” after admitting she had taken cocaine and cannabis but denied her admission was “damage

limitation”.

The trial continues on Tuesday.

 
 
 

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