‘It comes after a long summer of bullying and abuse’; Nigella Lawson claims Charles Saatchi ‘threatened to destroy her’

The confident chef will also be questioned about recent drug-taking claims and being "throttled" by ex-husband Charles Saatchi…


by Kayleigh Dray |
Published on

Nigella has told of the ‘long summer of bullying and abuse’ she has suffered at the hands of ex-husband Charles Saatchi.

In court this morning, Nigella said Charles had threatened to ‘destroy’ her is she did not ‘clear his name.’

'It comes after a long summer of bullying and abuse'

Nigella was giving evidence against her two former personal assistants, Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, who allegedly went on lavish spending sprees with her ex-husband’s company credit cards.

Nigella, who split from her ex-husband this summer after photos emerged which appeared to show him throttling her, told court officials: 'I have been put on trial here where I am called to answer, and glad to answer the allegations, and the world's press, and it comes after a long summer of bullying and abuse.

Nigella Lawson was met by a crowd of photographers when she arrived at court today
Nigella Lawson was met by a crowd of photographers when she arrived at court today

'He had said to me if I didn't get back to him and clear his name he would destroy me'

'I find it's another chapter in that.'

She spoke of her reluctance to give evidence at the trial, and her ex-husband's reaction to that.

'He had said to me if I didn't get back to him and clear his name he would destroy me,' she said.

She said that following the 'awful incident at Scott's (restaurant)', false allegations of drug use began circulating on a 'PR blog'.

She said these allegations on the blog were 'dedicated to salvaging Mr Saatchi's reputation and destroying mine'.

The famous chef also said she had trusted her former PA Elisabetta - who she referred to as Lisa – saying: 'It's very difficult when you find out that someone you have loved and trusted could behave that way.

Nigella looked defiant as she entered the court

'I loved Lisa. My children loved Lisa. She came to me at a very difficult time in my life'

'In my heart of hearts I do not believe Lisa to be a bad person. I believe her not to have a very strong moral compass.'

The jury has previously been told that the sisters used credit cards loaned to them by the Nigella and Charles to spend over £685,000 on themselves.

'I was flabbergasted at the extent,’ said Nigella.

'Lisa had been a stalwart and had helped me through a very difficult time when my first husband died.

'I loved Lisa. My children loved Lisa. She came to me at a very difficult time in my life.

'She was a rock. I would have done anything for her.'

Nigella said she once took £7,000 out of her savings to pay for Lisa to have her teeth fixed, giving her 'incredible confidence' and she continued to pay her when she left the job for three months so she would not get 'too anguished' about finding a new job.

On Lisa's return, she was 'increasingly bitter', Nigella said. 'She broke our heart.'

Nigella was accompanied by six uniformed police officers as she faced a huge crowd of photographers outside of Isleworth Crown Court in West London this morning.

Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo

During the trial yesterday, Charles told the jury he still adores his former wife.

He said: 'I adore Nigella now. I absolutely adore Nigella and I'm broken-hearted to have lost her. I wanted her to be happy.'

The 'throttling' photograph was brought up at least twice during cross-examination, with Anthony Metzer QC, representing Elisabetta, asked whether it was during an argument about her taking drugs.

Charles replied: 'I accepted a caution for assault. I was not gripping, strangling or throttling her. I was holding her head by the neck to make her focus, can we be clear?'

'Was it about her drug use? No.'

Asked by Metzer to explain what he meant in the email he sent Nigella on the 10th October, in which he said he could 'only laugh at your sorry depravity', Saatchi responded: 'I was very upset. I wasn't laughing, I was broken-hearted.'

Jurors heard the email went on: 'Of course now the Grillos will get off on the basis that you ... were so off your heads on drugs that you allowed the sisters to spend whatever they liked and yes I believe every word the Grillos have said, who after all only stole money.'

'But I'm sure it was all great fun and now everything is perfect – bravo, you have become a celebrity hostess on a global TV game show. And you got the pass you desired, free to heartily enjoy all the drugs you want, forever. Classy.'

Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson, in happier times

Questioned further about the drug-taking allegations, Saatchi told the court: 'It was hearsay. I personally have absolutely no knowledge that Nigella has ever taken a drug ever.

'I don't like drugs at all and I didn't like reading what the Grillos said was the culture in my house.'

'Are you asking me whether I think that Nigella truly was off her head?

'Not for a second. Over this whole period she was writing books very successfully. I have never, never seen any evidence of Nigella taking any drug whatsoever.'

Despite the fact that the breakdown of Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson's 10-year-marriage have taken centre stage in the courtroom, the jurors have been urged to remember that the allegations are against Elisabetta and Francesco Grillo, who are accused of fraud.

The trial continues.

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