NIGELLA Lawson has signed an exclusive deal to be interviewed by American chat show host Oprah Winfrey next month, it was claimed in court yesterday.
Karina Arden, representing one of two personal assistants accused of defrauding the TV chef and her ex-husband Charles Saatchi, told jurors that Ms Lawson would appear on the high-profile show in January.
Cross-examining one of the couple’s other personal assistants, Anzelle Wasserman, Ms Arden asked: “You know, don’t you, that Ms Lawson has signed an exclusive agreement with Oprah Winfrey in January?”
“That’s not correct,” Ms Wasserman replied, but did not elaborate on what details were or were not accurate.
The trial later heard that one of the personal assistants accused of defrauding Ms Lawson and Mr Saatchi was “cagey” and “secretive” about where she got her designer clothes and spent most of the working day on
Elisabetta Grillo, 41, was taken ill and had to be led from the dock as evidence about her was given by her former colleague Alice Binks.
The defendant and her sister, Francesca Grillo, 35, are accused of abusing their positions by spending £685,000 on credit cards belonging to the celebrity couple to buy themselves designer goods and holidays.
Elisabetta returned to the courtroom after a brief break, wiping her face with a tissue.
Ms Binks, who also worked as a personal assistant for Ms Lawson during her marriage to the multi-millionaire, said she often noticed the sisters wearing expensive-looking clothes and with designer handbags.
“Francesca would say that she got them from, like, a thrift shop or from eBay at a heavy discount,” Ms Binks, who now works for ITV, said.
“Elisabetta always had nice handbags. She would always say that they were from discount stores. They were always quite cagey and would sometimes get angry if you asked what they’d done at the weekend, and were always quite secretive about their personal lives.”
She added that Elisabetta – also known as Lisa – “could be quite difficult to work with”.
“She was quite bitter and quite angry,” she said. “Most of the time Lisa would be on Facebook.”
Asked by Anthony Metzer QC, representing Elisabetta, if she had come to court to blacken his client’s name, Ms Binks said: “No. I like Lisa. I just came here to give evidence.”
Ms Binks said she saw a “life coach” at Ms Lawson and Mr Saatchi’s home on two or three occasions and thought Ms Lawson had also seen him.
Ms Wasserman, who began giving evidence yesterday, was accused of conniving with her boss ahead of the trial.
The court heard she has continued to work for the food writer as her “principal PA” and member of “Team Cupcake”.
“You, I suggest, have come to court partly to save, as you perceive it, Ms Lawson’s reputation,” Ms Arden said.
Wasserman answered: “I’m here to give witness evidence about the trial of the Grillos because I worked for them for so long, and that is why I’m here.”
Ms Wasserman was taken through a list of foreign trips that Francesca went on with Ms Lawson and Mr Saatchi’s daughters from their previous marriages.
Between February 2008 and August 2011, the defendant accompanied the teenagers as they travelled around the world, staying in luxury hotels in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Amsterdam and Paris, often making several visits each year.
More details of Ms Lawson and Mr Saatchi’s spending during their ten-year marriage were read out to the court during evidence from another member of Team Cupcake, Zoe Wales.
Jurors heard that Ms Lawson spent £54,552 at fashion label Donna Karan between 2008 and 2012, while more than £7,500 went on a custom-made sofa.
There was a bill for £1,368 at Annabel’s Wine Cellar, along with £2,250 at Shi Cashmere, which Ms Wales said was for clothes for Ms Lawson.
The Grillo sisters, of Bayswater, west London, are accused of fraud by using a company credit card for personal gain between 2008 and last year.
They deny the charges. The case continues.