Glamorous English TV cook Nigella Lawson has admitted she tried cocaine twice, as well as cannabis, while giving evidence in a fraud trial against two former assistants.
Ms Lawson told Isleworth Crown Court in London that she tried cocaine with her first husband, John Diamond, as he was dying from cancer because “it gave him some escape”.
She used it again in 2010 during “a very, very difficult time” in her marriage to now ex-husband Charles Saatchi, whom she described as “a brilliant but brutal man” who subjected her to “intimate terrorism” and threatened to “destroy” her with drug abuse claims.
Ms Lawson, 53, said she felt on trial in a “witch hunt”, and was called as a reluctant witness spending five hours on the stand. She will give further evidence tonight, Australian time.
Two former assistants, sisters Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo are on trial for fraud over £685,000 ($1.3 million) spent on luxury goods using credit cards on loan from Mr Saatchi and his former wife.
The defence denies the charges, claiming Ms Lawson allowed the expenses to buy their silence and hide daily drug abuse.
The cook, referred to as the Domestic Goddess in her popular TV cooking shows, told the court the claims were “absolutely ridiculous”.
“I have never been a drug addict. I’ve never been a habitual user. There are two times in my life when I have used cocaine.”
She stopped after more the recent incident because the drug “completely spooked” her.
But Ms Lawson did have “the odd joint” in the final year of her marriage to Charles Saatchi because “it made an intolerable situation tolerable”.
“This was not behaviour I’m proud of,” she said, describing cannabis as “a false friend and not a good idea”.
She told the court she is now drug-free.
Ms Lawson said the infamous incident in which Mr Saatchi was photographed grabbing her in Scotts restaurant in June occurred after she told him she was looking forward to having grandchildren.
“He grabbed me by the throat and said ‘I’m the only person you should be concerned with, I am the only person that should give you pleasure’,” she said in evidence.
Mr Saatchi subsequently claimed that he was attempting to wipe her nose and “make her focus”.
After repeated questioning from defendant Elisabetta Grillo’s barrister, Anthony Metzer QC, who was prevented by Judge Robin Johnson from showing photographs of the incident to Ms Lawson, she said she’d given an “almost verbatim” account of what happened and did intend to speak about it ever again.
Ms Lawson said her former husband was now embarked on a campaign to “ruin me” and “get her”.
The trial continues on Thursday in London.
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