Nigella 'let children smoke cannabis', court told
NIGELLA LAWSON permitted her children to smoke drugs, a jury was told yesterday.
Her former housekeeper justified buying cigarettes for her employers' children when they were underage by telling the court that Ms Lawson, pictured, "lets the children smoke weed".
Elisabetta Grillo (41) also claimed that the reason for Ms Lawson's infamous restaurant row with Charles Saatchi, her former husband, was because "he discovered that day" that she took cocaine.
Ms Grillo and her sister Francesca are accused of fraudulently spending £685,000 (€812,000) on company credit cards issued by Mr Saatchi. They both deny fraud.
Jane Carpenter, prosecuting, asked Elisabetta Grillo about a £69 (€82) payment made on the credit card at a duty free shop in New York.
Ms Grillo said the money was for "cigarettes for the children" of Ms Lawson and Mr Saatchi, and that "Nigella allowed me to do that".
Ms Carpenter asked: "What on Earth do you think you're doing buying cigarettes for underage children?" Ms Grillo, an Italian, replied: "Well, if Nigella Lawson lets the children smoking weed ..."
Last week, Ms Lawson told the jury at Isleworth Crown Court in west London that she had occasionally smoked cannabis in front of her children. She also admitted taking cocaine on seven occasions.
Ms Grillo was asked why she had made no mention of Ms Lawson's drug use in her original defence statement, before deciding to rely on the cook's "habitual" drug use as part of her defence two weeks before the trial was due to start.
Referring to Ms Lawson's row in Scott's restaurant in Mayfair, when Mr Saatchi was photographed grabbing her by the throat and nose, Ms Grillo said: "I wanted to protect her, but ... when the Scott's accident came out, it was the proof that she still do drugs and he discovered that day, so we decided it was the moment for everybody to know the truth. She had lied."
Ms Lawson and Mr Saatchi, who divorced in July, had both denied their row was about drugs, or that Mr Saatchi was examining her nose for cocaine, though Mr Saatchi said he became aware of his wife's drug use around the time of the row.
Ms Grillo claimed Ms Lawson was "afraid" that Mr Saatchi would think she allowed aides to spend his money in return for their silence over her drug use, and that -- although no such agreement existed -- this fear "informed" her relationship with Ms Lawson. Ms Carpenter asked the defendant about designer clothes allegedly bought on the credit card without permission.
She said: "It's normal, like every woman have. Women like clothes and shoes and bags."
She said she never spent money that was not authorised by Ms Lawson.
Ms Carpenter asked: "You think she gave you permission to spend tens of thousands of pounds? You've pushed your luck, haven't you?" "No. It was authorised," Ms Grillo replied.
Earlier in the day it was claimed that her aides were told to tour round bookshops buying copies of Charles Saatchi's books to help them get on the bestseller lists. Ms Grillo said she would spend £200 on his books four times each week. Other aides were also told to do the same, she said. The case continues. (© Daily Telegraph, London)