independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Nigella has signed deal for Oprah interview, court hears

Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson
Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson

TV chef Nigella Lawson has signed an exclusive deal to be interviewed by American chat show host Oprah Winfrey, it has been claimed in court.

Defence barrister Karina Arden told jurors that Ms Lawson, who divorced Charles Saatchi earlier this year, would appear on the high-profile show next month as she cross-examined the food writer's personal assistant Anzelle Wasserman.

"You know, don't you, that Ms Lawson has signed an exclusive agreement with Oprah Winfrey in January?" Ms Arden asked.

"That's not correct," Ms Wasserman replied, but did not elaborate on what details were or were not accurate.

Ms Wasserman, who began giving evidence in the trial of two of Ms Lawson and Mr Saatchi's former personal assistants, Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, yesterday, was also accused of conniving with her boss ahead of the trial.

CELEBRITY

"You, I suggest, have come to court partly to save, as you perceive it, Ms Lawson's reputation," Ms Arden said.

"I'm here to give witness evidence about the trial of the Grillos because I worked for them for so long, and that is why I'm here," Ms Wasserman answered.

Elisabetta (41) and Francesca Grillo (35) are on trial at Isleworth Crown Court in west London accused of abusing their positions by spending £695,000 (€826,000) on credit cards belonging to the celebrity couple on themselves.

Prosecutors claim the Italian sisters lived the "high life" by splashing out on designer clothes and handbags.

Earlier, one of the sisters -- Elisabetta -- was taken ill and had to be led from the dock as evidence about her was given by her former colleague Alice Binks.

She returned to the courtroom after a brief break, wiping her face with a tissue.

Ms Binks, who also worked as a personal assistant to Ms Lawson during her marriage to the multimillionaire, said she often noticed the sisters wearing expensive-looking clothes with designer handbags.

"Francesca would say that she got them from, like, a thrift shop or from eBay at a heavy discount," Ms Binks, who now works for ITV, said.

"Elisabetta always had nice handbags. She would always say that they were from discount stores.

"They were always quite cagey and would sometimes get angry if you asked what they'd done at the weekend and were always quite secretive about their personal lives."

Referring to one occasion with Francesca, Ms Binks said: "After pushing her for a while about what she'd done that weekend, it turned out she'd been to New York for the weekend, which was really weird because I'd never go to New York for just a weekend, but she seemed to have a fun life and was kind of away a lot."

She added that Elisabetta "could be quite difficult to work with".

Asked by Anthony Metzer, representing Elisabetta, if she had come to court to blacken his client's name, Ms Binks said: "No, I like Lisa. I just came here to give evidence."

The investigating officer in the case, Detective Sergeant Peter Lewis, gave evidence yesterday afternoon, telling the court that the sisters were arrested in August last year.

They both answered "no comment" during interviews with police and were eventually charged last March, he said.

The sisters deny the allegations against them. The trial was adjourned until today.

Irish Independent

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