Nigella steps out for lunch as Saatchi gets set for court date with her former aides
Nigella Lawson and her husband Charles Saatchi are understood to be at loggerheads over two of her former personal assistants who are accused of costing the couple £170,000 (€200,000).
Mr Saatchi is taking the two women – close aides of Ms Lawson – to the High Court in London after they allegedly spent tens of thousands of pounds on designer goods, taxi journeys and a flight to New York.
News of the latest dispute between the pair came as Ms Lawson was photographed enjoying lunch in central London yesterday afternoon.
Having moved out of the marital home recently, she spent time last week house-hunting, including being shown around a rental property in London with her sister, her 17-year-old son Bruno and other companions.
The £2.5m (€2.9m) mews house in central London is a mile and a half from the family home she left after being pictured being grabbed by the throat by Mr Saatchi during a row at a restaurant, and is thought to cost £11,000 (€12,850) per month. Mr Saatchi later accepted a police caution over the incident.
The issue over the two personal assistants, Francesca Grillo (34) and Elisabetta Grillo (32), who are sisters, is reported to have caused tensions between Ms Lawson (53) and her 70-year-old husband, while another friend told a newspaper that they had also fallen out over Ms Lawson's son, Bruno.
The two assistants were first employed by Ms Lawson when she was married to her first husband, John Diamond, who died of cancer aged 47 in 2001.
When she married Mr Saatchi in September 2003, the women took roles working for the couple. Francesca Grillo was paid £28,000 (€32,700) a year; her sister received £25,000 (€29,200). Their jobs ranged from looking after Ms Lawson's children and Mr Saatchi's daughter to carrying out activities related to Mr Saatchi's business activities.
They were sacked last year over allegations concerning the misuse of credit cards and Mr Saatchi started High Court proceedings against them.
They also face criminal charges under the Fraud Act 2006 and are due to appear at Isleworth Crown Court later this year.
A spokesman for Mr Saatchi said the civil proceedings were "instigated with the full knowledge and approval of Nigella Lawson and other family members".