Monday 24 November 2014

British Prime Minister David Cameron 'intervened in police investigation into Nigella Lawson's drug-taking'

Cameron, who said he was a "massive fan" of Ms Lawson, denies having anything to do with police dropping inquiry

Gordon Rayner

Published 04/03/2014 | 10:10

Nigella Lawson, whose cookery programmes we view more than we emulate
Nigella Lawson
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron
Nigella Lawson

CHARLES Saatchi's public relations war with his former wife Nigella Lawson appeared to have started afresh after his PR adviser suggested she had David Cameron to thank for escaping police investigation over drug-taking.

On his blog, the Daily Hillgrove, Richard Hillgrove suggested that the British Prime Minister persuaded Scotland Yard to drop its inquiry into Miss Lawson’s courtroom confession that she took cocaine and cannabis.

Mr Hillgrove also suggested that George Osborne’s friendship with Miss Lawson’s father, the former Chancellor Lord Lawson, may also have been “a factor” in the decision not to prosecute her.

The claims — denied by Downing Street — were published as photographs of Miss Lawson on the cover of Vogue were distributed ahead of the publication of her first in-depth interview since the trial.

Miss Lawson, 54, admitted during evidence at Isleworth Crown Court in London last year — where two former aides were cleared of fraud — that she had taken cocaine and used cannabis. She was also alleged to have allowed her children to smoke cannabis.

The Metropolitan Police decided not to prosecute Miss Lawson, but Mr Hillgrove, who runs his own PR firm, claimed that “a source close to No 10” had let slip that the Prime Minister “made a personal intervention to stop the MPS [Met Police Service] further investigating Nigella Lawson and her drugs admission”.

Mr Cameron was left embarrassed during the trial after telling the Spectator magazine that he was “a massive fan” of Miss Lawson who “always strikes me as a very funny and warm person”.

His comments led to a delay in the proceedings as barristers for the defendants Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo tried to get the case thrown out, arguing that their clients could not receive a fair trial after the Prime Minister’s “unprecedented” public backing for the main prosecution witness.

The judge described Mr Cameron’s comments as “regrettable” and expressed irritation that they had delayed the trial by half a day while barristers argued the point, but allowed the case to proceed.

Mr Hillgrove claimed on his blog that Mr Cameron was afraid that if Miss Lawson was prosecuted, his support for her could rebound on him in the run-up to the 2015 general election and that he influenced the Met’s “climb down”.

Mr Hillgrove also claimed that “Chancellor George Osborne is particularly close to Nigella Lawson’s father, Lord Nigel Lawson, which could have conceivably been a factor in the decision to drop the prosecution of Nigella Lawson”.

A spokesman for Downing Street said: “I think these decisions around prosecutions are always and entirely and wholly a matter for the prosecuting authorities.”

Scotland Yard said “we are not prepared to discuss the case” and Miss Lawson’s spokesman declined to comment.

During the trial, Mr Saatchi was accused of using the case to attack Miss Lawson “by proxy” and hired Mr Hillgrove to brief against her behind the scenes. Mr Hillgrove later offered newspapers stories about Miss Lawson allegedly cheating on her first husband, John Diamond, while he was dying of cancer.

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