American dream may turn sour after legal nightmare
AS admissions and allegations about Nigella Lawson's private life have dominated headlines during the past 17 days at Isleworth Crown Court, it has sometimes been easy to forget who was really in the dock.
At one stage during her 10-hour cross-examination, Ms Lawson felt compelled to remind Karina Arden, a defence barrister, that the defendants in the trial were, in fact, her former assistants, Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo.
"If you want to put me on trial, put me on trial," she said.
"But I cannot think that it's right to have me here as a witness for the Crown and treat me like this."
Nevertheless, Ms Lawson's personal life has been subjected to the most intense scrutiny.
On the first day of the trial, court documents disclosed that her former husband, Charles Saatchi, had labelled her "Higella".
Later, Ms Arden claimed Ms Lawson had a "dark secret" in her marriage, keeping rolled-up bank notes coated with cocaine in her handbag, and summoning drug dealers to the couple's £25m (€29.8m) home in Eaton Square.
Ms Lawson denied the claims, and told the court: "I am in no sense a drug addict or habitual user. I have never been incapable of work."
Yet her own admissions in court could now threaten that career. She told the jury that "acts of intimate terrorism" by Mr Saatchi had driven her to cocaine and cannabis use. She admitted to snorting cocaine in 2010 when she felt "ashamed, isolated and in fear", and to smoking cannabis "with or in front of" her children.
The timing of the disclosures is unfortunate for the television cook, who had just begun to launch a prime-time career in the US.
"Her dream has always been to conquer America, and she is now well on her way," said Chris Coelen, chief executive of Kinetic Productions, a few months ago. "I'm sure 2013 will be the Year of Nigella in America."
Now, however, that dream of the so-called 'domestic goddess' is in doubt.