Trial judge rebukes UK Prime Minister David Cameron over remarks about celebrity chef Nigella Lawson
Published 12/12/2013 | 17:03
The jury in the trial of two former personal assistants accused of defrauding Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi has been told to disregard comments made by the Prime Minister David Cameron about the Domestic Goddess author.
Judge Robin Johnson told the jurors in the trial of Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo at Isleworth Crown Court that it was a matter of regret that public figures commented on someone connected to the case.
Sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo stand accused of abusing their positions by spending £685,000 on credit cards belonging to the celebrity couple to buy designer goods and luxury holidays for themselves.
Elisabetta Grillo, referred to as Lisa, 41, and sister Francesca, 35, of Kensington Gardens Square, Bayswater, west London, each deny a single count of committing fraud by using a company credit card for personal gain between January 1, 2008, and December 31 last year.
Today the judge told the jury of five women and seven men that he had been shown a number of press reports about comments made by Mr Cameron about Ms Lawson.
"They centre on the Prime Minister commenting about a prosecution witness, Ms Lawson, during an interview with a journalist.
"It is of regret when people in public office comment about a person who is involved in a trial which is in progress."
He said the defendants felt "aggrieved" by the comments, even though they did not specifically deal with matters in the trial, adding: "The fact they they may feel aggrieved is not without justification."
He told jurors: "You will realise that what public figures may feel about this case or a witness in this case can have no bearing on your own views", and he urged them to heed instructions given at the start of the trial.
Downing Street declined to comment on the judge's remarks.
Independent.co.uk. Additional reporting by the Press Association.