Nigella let her children puff on cannabis, accused says

Nigella Lawson arrives at Isleworth Crown Court in London
Nigella Lawson arrives at Isleworth Crown Court in London
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TV chef Nigella Lawson allowed her children to smoke cannabis, a court was told yesterday.

One of the personal assistants accused of defrauding Ms Lawson and Charles Saatchi also accused the celebrity couple of lying under oath.

Elisabetta Grillo, 41, told jurors the cook permitted the teenagers to smoke the Class C drug as she gave evidence in her fraud trial.

The defendant, and her sister Francesca Grillo, 35, is accused of spending £685,000 on credit cards belonging to the celebrity couple to buy designer goods and luxury holidays for herself.

She was asked by prosecutor Jane Carpenter to explain a duty-free transaction for £69.71 in New York in June 2010.

“It was cigarettes for the children. I bought them and Nigella allowed me to buy them,” Grillo said.

Asked by Ms Carpenter: “What on earth did you think you were doing, buying cigarettes for underage children?”

Grillo said: “Well, if Nigella Lawson let the children smoke weed...”

The defendant tailed off as Judge Robin Johnson interrupted the exchange.

Grillo told the Isleworth Crown Court that Mr Saatchi only discovered his former wife’s alleged drug habit on the day he was photographed with his hands around her throat outside a restaurant in Mayfair, central London.

Jurors were told Grillo had not originally planned to use her former boss’s alleged drug taking in her defence in an effort to protect the TV cook.

An original defence case statement for Elisabetta Grillo from August did not include allegations of Ms Lawson’s drug use because she did not want them raised in court out of a “remnant of sympathy” for her, jurors heard.

But an extra statement added in November did include the claims.

The additional statement, read to the court by Elisabetta Grillo’s barrister Anthony Metzer QC, said: “The defendant’s case is that Ms Lawson’s drug use and the defendant’s knowledge of it materially affected her attitude to the defendant’s spending and in turn her attitude to this prosecution.

“Whilst it is not the defendant’s case that there was an explicit agreement for silence in return for aquiescence in expenditure, the intimate atmosphere created by such knowledge informed their relationship and what the defendant considered was permitted by Ms Lawson.”

Grillo claimed that Mr Saatchi, Ms Lawson and members of her “Team Cupcake” had not told the truth during their evidence.

Ms Carpenter asked: “Ms Grillo, is it your evidence that Ms Lawson has lied to the court?

“Yes,” she replied.

“And Mr Saatchi?”

“Yes.”

“And you’re the one telling the truth?”

“I am.”

The Grillos, of Kensington Gardens Square, Bayswater, west London, each deny a single count of committing fraud by using a company credit card for personal gain between January 1, 2008 and December 31 last year.

The trial continues.