Sunday 22 April 2018

Nigella had ‘culture of secrecy’ in Saatchi marriage, court told

Italian sisters Elisabetta (L) and Francesca Grillo arrive at Isleworth Crown Court in west London today
Italian sisters Elisabetta (L) and Francesca Grillo arrive at Isleworth Crown Court in west London today
Italian sisters Elisabetta (R) and Francesca (C) Grillo are surrounded by members of the media as they arrive at Isleworth Crown Court in west London
Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi

Jennifer Cockerell

THERE was a "culture of secrecy" in Nigella Lawson's marriage to Charles Saatchi, a court was told today.

Italian sisters Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo are due to go on trial accused of fraud by using a company credit card on themselves while working as personal assistants to the celebrity couple.

But lawyers for the defendants argued today that the case should not go ahead due to the "manipulation of the court process" by the TV cook and millionaire art dealer, who had a high-profile divorce earlier this year.

Yesterday, Isleworth Crown Court in west London heard that Saatchi alleges Lawson was so high on drugs that she was unaware of what she had or had not permitted the sisters to spend money on.

Anthony Metzer QC, defending Elisabetta Grillo, told the court today: "The defendant's case is that Nigella Lawson lied to her ex-husband about her drug use and about the expenditure that was incurred by the defendants, both expressly and implicitly, because she was fearful of Mr Saatchi's reaction if he knew about the extent of the expenditure and drug use.

"There was a culture of secrecy within Nigella Lawson's marriage."

He argued that the defendants will not be able to receive a far trial "as there has been a manipulation of the court process by the two main prosecution witnesses in this case".

He described the pair, who were married for 10 years, as being at "loggerheads" with one another.

"It's a convenient forum for Mr Saatchi and Miss Lawson to rehearse disputed issues between them... in the criminal courts where, of course, the possibility of libel is not possible," he said.

"If Mr Saatchi is telling the truth, then Miss Lawson is a habitual criminal."

Judge Robin Johnson, who allowed the legal argument to be reported, is due to make a judgment on whether the case will go ahead.

Press Association

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