NIGELLA LAWSON was accused yesterday of lying in court about the extent of her drug-taking as her former housekeeper said she saw evidence of cocaine use "every three days".
Elisabetta Grillo, who is on trial for fraud, said she "regularly" found rolled-up £20 notes and credit cards with "white powder" on them and said Ms Lawson smoked cannabis to help her sleep.
Ms Lawson told a jury last week that she took cocaine only once during her marriage to Charles Saatchi, in 2010.
Ms Grillo (41), was asked whether Ms Lawson had been telling the truth.
She replied: "No, because I saw more stuff before that."
She said she found "three or four" rolled-up £20 notes in Ms Lawson's desk drawer with white powder on them, as well as rolled-up US dollars.
She added that she had also seen credit cards and CDs with powder on them.
Asked how often she found evidence of drug use, she said: "Regularly . . . every three days."
She told the court that Ms Lawson had trouble sleeping and would come downstairs and smoke cannabis in front of her children.
Ms Lawson also kept "lots" of anti-depressants and sleeping tablets in her bedside table, the court heard.
One of Ms Lawson's children allegedly told Ms Grillo that: "When Nigella was tipsy or high, it was easy to ask for presents."
When asked what sort of employer Ms Lawson had been, Ms Grillo said Mr Saatchi, Ms Lawson and their three children were "like family" to her but that Ms Lawson's moods would be "up and down" and "sometimes she could be mean".
She said: "Sometimes she was very open with me, saying she loved me and sending me a message with a kiss . . . but one time, I was having a lunch with the girls and she said 'can you come here'. "I thought she was going to ask me to do some cooking but she said 'look there's some parsley on the floor, can you pick it up?' I thought it was kind of mean."
Ms Grillo said she frequently did the cooking for Ms Lawson and her children. A lasagne dish from her native Calabria was a particular favourite with the children, and was used by Ms Lawson in her 'Nigellissima' cookbook.
She said that when Ms Lawson held dinner parties "a chef came out to help her."
Ms Grillo, who had worked for Ms Lawson when she was married to her first husband John Diamond, who died in 2001, said she found Mr Saatchi "a difficult person; very shouty" and said "it was not a happy marriage."
She said the family would sometimes have "movie nights".
But one of Ms Lawson's children would "never be invited".
Ms Lawson allegedly confided in her that she felt as though "she was being kept in a gold cage" by Mr Saatchi.
Ms Grillo said: "She couldn't go out like normal people for a birthday because Charles wanted her there."
Ms Grillo and her sister Francesca deny fraud.
The trial continues. (© Daily Telegraph, London)