Nigella: My time in the witness box was 'deeply disturbing'

Chef blasts 'ridiculous sideshow of false allegations'

Published 20/12/2013|16:18

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Nigella Lawson. Photo: PA

Nigella Lawson has blasted what she claimed was a "ridiculous sideshow of false allegations about drug use" as she told of her disappointment at the not guilty verdicts against two former assistants.

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In a statement at the conclusion of the case - which saw two former personal assistants cleared of fraud - she denied claims of habitual drug use and spoke of a "sustained background campaign deliberately designed to destroy my reputation".

The TV cook and writer admitted during the case that she had used drugs although police have said she will not be investigated at this stage.

Best-selling author Ms Lawson said she had been "maliciously vilified" in court without being able to defend herself and was unhappy that her children had been dragged into the case.

Early in the proceedings, Isleworth Crown Court heard about an email sent by her former husband, Charles Saatchi, in which he claimed her drug use meant she allowed the couple's two former assistants, Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, to spend what they liked.

Ms Lawson said today: "Over the three-week trial the jury was faced with a ridiculous sideshow of false allegations about drug use which made focus on the actual criminal trial impossible.

"My experience as a witness was deeply disturbing. When false claims about habitual drug use were introduced I did everything possible to ensure the CPS was aware of the sustained background campaign deliberately designed to destroy my reputation.

"During the trial not one witness claimed to see me take drugs and not one of my three assistants was asked about these claims by the defence, despite being cross-examined at length. I did my civic duty, only to be maliciously vilified without the right to respond. I can only hope that my experience will highlight the need for a reform that will give witnesses some rights to rebut false claims made against them."

She said she was "disappointed but unsurprised" by the not guilty verdict.

Her statement went on: "Even more harrowing was seeing my children subjected to extreme allegations in court without any real protection or representation. For this I cannot forgive the court process.

"When I gave evidence I spoke of my regret at having to talk about the circumstances of the end of my marriage and also voiced concern about a campaign to circulate false allegations carried out over the course of this summer, then circulated as witness statements from the Grillos by a publicist, and eventually added to the defence of this prosecution in November. That concern remains."

She added: "While this has been a difficult and upsetting time for both me and my family I would like to thank my friends, family and all those who have expressed support throughout this ordeal."

Press Association

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