TWO sisters accused of spending almost £700,000 on credit cards belonging to Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi wrote to the couple begging for forgiveness, a court yesterday heard.
Elisabetta Grillo, 41, and Francesca Grillo, 35, who are accused of abusing their positions as housekeepers to splash out on luxury items, pleaded: “Somewhere in your hearts, you will find a way to forgive us.”
Prosecutors claim the Italian sisters lived the “high life”, spending the money on designer clothes and handbags.
An e-mail sent by the pair to Ms Lawson and Mr Saatchi was read out to the jury at Isleworth Crown Court yesterday by prosecutor Jane Carpenter. “We are at our utmost despair and we are reaching out to you in the sincere hope that somewhere in your hearts you will find a way to forgive us and believe that we never meant in any way to seem to be disloyal or to seem like we took advantage of our positions,” the e-mail read.
The sisters told the couple they believed they had a “bond like a family”, and saw them as mother and father figures. “There is not a worst feeling thinking we have in any way let down our family and we are deeply sorry and full of regret,” they wrote in the e-mail in October last year. “All we want to do is… make amends.”
The Grillo sisters also forwarded the e-mail to a current PA of Ms Lawson, Anzelle Wasserman, who gave evidence yesterday.
The letter from the former housekeepers continued: “We asked our lawyers to try and settle this ongoing nightmare and we plead with you to find a way in your hearts so that we can stop the fighting which is destroying us and make amends with you as soon as possible.”
The Grillo sisters, of west London, deny committing fraud by abusing their positions and using a company credit card for personal gain. The court also heard Mr Saatchi’s accountants did not scrutinise credit cards used by the personal assistants because it was not their job to get involved in household expenditure.
Mr Saatchi’s finance director, Rahul Gajjar, said the finance team did not check the statements for Coutts credit cards given to PAs “line by line” because it was not for them to comment on what was being spent. He told the court he did not think it was his job to comment on “how much dry cleaning” or “how much potatoes” the house was purchasing.
Asked by Anthony Metzer QC, representing Elisabetta Grillo, if he would have been concerned if a large sum – £1 million, for example – had been spent on a “home card”, Mr Gajjar told the court: “If Charles wanted to buy an expensive gift for Nigella, it would not be my job to say, ‘You could have got it cheaper on EBay’.”
When questioned whether Mr Saatchi was aware the cards were not being scrutinised, he said: “He is well aware that we have never scrutinised his home expenses.”
He added: “It was for the home to consider these expenses. There was trust in the staff that were given these cards.
“Lisa and Francesca were part of the family and they had trust.”
The trial continues.