Entertainment News

  • 15 December 2013, 18:19

Nigella Lawson 'Let Her Children Smoke Weed'

Nigella Lawson let her children smoke cannabis and allowed one of her aides to buy them cigarettes, a court has heard.

Elisabetta Grillo, who is accused of fraudulently spending 685,000 on credit cards belonging the TV cook and her former husband, made the claim as she was quizzed about a transaction of almost 70 at a duty free shop in New York.

"It was cigarettes for the children," the 41-year-old said. "I bought them there and Nigella allowed me to buy (them).

"She was then asked by the prosecutor Jane Carpenter: "What on earth do you think you were doing buying cigarettes for underage children?"

"Well, if Nigella Lawson let them smoke weed..." she replied, before Judge Robin Johnson stopped the line of questioning.

Earlier, Grillo accused Ms Lawson, her former husband Charles Saatchi and members of her employer's so-called "Team Cupcake" of lying in court.

Giving evidence last week, Ms Lawson admitted taking cocaine but said she had only used the drug after she found out her late husband John Diamond had terminal cancer, and again in July 2010 during her troubled marriage to Mr Saatchi.

However, Grillo claimed that although she had never seen Ms Lawson taking drugs, there were signs of regular use.

Jurors at Isleworth Crown Court heard she found a packet of white powder in the home Ms Lawson shared with Mr Diamond, as well as rolled-up banknotes and credit cards with white powder on them.

Asked why she did not speak out about Ms Lawson's drug use, Grillo said she wanted "to protect Nigella until the end".

"I didn't want to disappoint her," she added. "Nigella was a very nice person ... she was very generous to me."

Grillo said she decided to mention Ms Lawson's drug use as part of her defence when photographs emerged of Mr Saatchi apparently pinching his then-wife's nose outside a London restaurant, but she denied she was taking advantage of the situation.

As details of some of her alleged spending were revealed, Grillo claimed Ms Lawson allowed her to buy a bed from Ikea and sign up for a fashion course.

She was given permission to use a credit card during a weekend in Paris because "it was my birthday" and bought Calvin Klein underwear while shopping for Ms Lawson's daughter "because we are the same size", the court heard.

"Nobody told me I could not take money," she said, adding that Ms Lawson allowed her to withdraw extra cash for herself if she worked beyond her hours.

Grillo, who claimed Mr Saatchi gave her 200 to bump up sales of his book, also denied she was better dressed than other household staff members and said she bought clothes at discount stores and online.

"I was allowed to buy clothes for myself ... I worked hard," she said. "I was part of the family for 14 years."

Grillo and her sister Francesca, 35, deny committing fraud by using a company credit card for personal gain.

The trial continues.

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