Charles Saatchi 'has no proof' Nigella Lawson took drugs

Charles Saatchi arrives at court flanked by two security men Charles Saatchi said he was "very fond" of the Grillo sisters

Related Stories

Charles Saatchi has told a court he has "no proof" his ex-wife Nigella Lawson ever took drugs - despite an email he sent claiming she was "off her head".

He was giving evidence at the trial of the couple's assistants Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo who deny fraudulently using their employers' credit cards.

The Grillos' defence has claimed the sisters were allowed to spend by Ms Lawson to cover her use of drugs.

Addressing the Grillos' defence counsel Mr Saatchi said: "I have no proof."

Art dealer Mr Saatchi told defence barrister Anthony Metzer QC at Isleworth Crown Court: "I have never, never seen any evidence of Nigella taking any drug whatsoever."

'Severe cocaine habit'

The Grillo sisters, Francesca, 35, and Elisabetta, 41, are accused of using credit cards loaned to them by the couple to spend more than £685,000 on themselves.

Earlier, Mr Saatchi told the court he was "utterly bereft" that a private email he sent to Ms Lawson referring to her being "off her head" on drugs had been made public.

Start Quote

I'd rather go to jail than go to Battersea”

End Quote Francesca Grillo According to Charles Saatchi in court

Questioned about the email by prosecutor Jane Carpenter, Mr Saatchi said: "I'm utterly bereft that this private email to Nigella has come back to haunt us both. That's all I have to say.

"The stories that the Grillos were parading was that Nigella had a severe cocaine habit that stretched back a very long time for the entirety of our marriage.

"What I was speculating here was that the Grillos would use this as a defence."

Upon being asked about the drug-taking allegations, Mr Saatchi told the court: "It was hearsay. I personally have absolutely no knowledge that Nigella has ever taken a drug, ever."

Mr Saatchi said he rejected the suggestion his former wife's mind was so "addled" by drugs that she was not aware what she had or had not permitted the sisters to buy.

Elisabetta (L) and Francesca Grillo Elisabetta (left) and Francesca Grillo both deny fraud

"Are you asking me whether I think that Nigella truly was off her head?" he asked.

"Not for a second. Over this whole period she was writing books very successfully and appearing on television shows very successfully."

When questioned if he believed the claims, Mr Saatchi went on: "I may have believed it but I may have been completely wrong and they may have been deluded."

He said he was "utterly heartbroken at having lost Nigella" and when asked if he had adored Ms Lawson during their marriage, he said: "I adore Nigella now."

Mr Saatchi and Ms Lawson broke up in the summer after pictures were published showing the millionaire art dealer holding his wife by the throat at the restaurant in Mayfair. They divorced soon after.

'Not throttling'

When asked by Mr Metzer if he became aware of Ms Lawson's alleged drug-taking around the time of the "Scott's Restaurant incident", he said it was indeed around that time.

Mr Saatchi agreed he was "shocked".

Referring again to the incident outside Scott's, Mr Saatchi said: "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."

Nigella Lawson Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi divorced in July

Mr Saatchi said Ms Lawson was "very cross" with him when he told her he had confronted their personal assistants about their alleged misuse of his company credit card.

He said he thought the Grillo sisters had been "naughty" but he wanted to put the matter behind them, while Ms Lawson wanted to call the police.

Mr Saatchi said he told the sisters they could pay back the money they owed and live rent-free in a house in Battersea that Ms Lawson used for filming, but he told the court his then-wife did not agree.

"She was very cross with me," he told jurors.

The art dealer said Ms Lawson told him: "You have to hand this matter straight over to the police."

Mr Saatchi said he thought Francesca Grillo saw his Battersea idea as "humiliating".

He told the court she said: "I'd rather go to jail than go to Battersea," and then said "see you around".

Mr Saatchi told the court the Grillo sisters were originally employed by Ms Lawson as nannies during her marriage to her late husband, John Diamond.

They later looked after his daughter Phoebe, now 19, when she was a child but Mr Saatchi said their role changed as the children got older.

"The children adored them and Nigella was very fond of them and I was very fond of them, and we didn't want them to go so they stayed on as housekeepers and general assistants," he said.

The trial continues.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC London

Weather

London

14 °C 10 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    12:00: News on the hour BBC London 94.9 Radio

    The lead story at noon on BBC London 94.9: A survey carried out by Labour suggests three quarters of councils are either switching off or dimming street lights late at night to save money.

     
  2.  
    @TfLTrafficNews 11:53: Traffic slow in Blackwall Tunnel

    TfL's social media team tweet: A102 Blackwall Tunnel Southern Approach - lane 1 (of 3) heading north to the Tunnel blocked due to a broken down car. Traffic is slow.

     
  3.  
    11:50: Harrow football fan in charts

    A football fan and YouTube star from Harrow has gone straight to number 5 in the official Christmas chart with his charity single.

    The Wealdstone Raider

    Gordon Hill, otherwise known as the Wealdstone Raider, became famous when someone recorded him, pint in hand, shouting "you've got no fans" to his team's opponents at a match and the video went viral.

    He was pipped to the number one spot by Croydon's X-Factor winner Ben Haenow.

     
  4.  
    11:37: False teeth and prosthetic arms Andy Dangerfield BBC News Online

    False teeth, a prosthetic arm and a parachute are among items that have ended up at Transport for London's lost property office.

    Mickey Mouse and Gorilla stuffed toys

    Transport for London's Baker Street lost property office marked its 80th anniversary this year and I take a look at some of the weird and wonderful things passengers leave behind.

     
  5.  
    11:22: Airport strike suspended

    A two-day strike planned by airport ground handling workers at Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester has been suspended after a new pay offer was made.

    Airport

    Members of the Unite union working for dnata had been due to walk out tomorrow, but will be balloted on revised proposals.

     
  6.  
    11:13: HS2 compensation 'measly and pathetic' The Daily Telegraph

    The compensation offered to people living along the HS2 route is "measly and pathetic", Boris Johnson has told friends, the Daily Telegraph is reporting.

    The Mayor of London said the Government had to be "more like the French" and increase the sums paid to homeowners to ensure the high speed rail line is completed in a timely fashion.

     
  7.  
    11:02: News on the hour

    The lead story at 11:00 in the capital on BBC London 94.9: The government says it should be up to councils and their residents to decide whether to switch off or dim street lights late at night, after a survey by the Labour party found three quarters of councils have done it.

     
  8.  
    10:55: Lights out

    A study by the Labour party has found 75% of councils are turning off or dimming street lights late at night to save money.

    A street light

    In Barnet 92% of street lights are dimmed at night but no other London borough which responded to the survey dimmed more than half its lights.

     
  9.  
    @londonAssembly 10:40: Cybercrime victims

    London Assembly's social media team tweets: Have you been a victim of #cybercrime? Complete @LDN_talk Talking Points survey - it will take just a few mins

     
  10.  
    10:30: 'Humiliating' gang tactics London Evening Standard Newspaper

    London's gang members are using spoons and screwdrivers as weapons to get around knife-carrying laws and are wounding people in areas to "maximise embarrassment" according to trauma doctors who spoke to the Evening Standard.

     
  11.  
    10:20: City workers expects higher bonuses

    Senior workers in London's financial services sector are expecting an average 21% rise in their bonus payouts for this year, a survey found.

    The increase would take the average bonus to £124,680, according to recruitment firm Astbury Marsden, which surveyed 1,500 senior City staff.

     
  12.  
    10:08: Preventing more ecstasy deaths Elaine Okyere BBC London News

    Family and friends of a teenager who died after taking ecstasy while at a rave in west London have set up a charity to try and prevent another tragedy.

    Daniel Spargo-Mabbs died in January of multiple organ failure.

    Daniel Spargo-Mabbs

    Student Archie Coombs, whose sister was in a relationship with Daniel at the time of his death, said: "I wanted to do something and not just be sad.

    "I wanted to put my energy into something good."

     
  13.  
    10:00: News on the hour

    The lead story at 10:00 on BBC London 94.9: A survey carried out by Labour suggests three quarters of councils are either switching off or dimming street lights late at night to save money.

     
  14.  
    @TowerRNLI 09:48: 'Busiest year'

    Tower of London's RNLI team on the River Thames tweets: We now sit at 526 calls for 2014. Looks like it could be our busiest year ever & again make us the busiest station within the @RNLI. #Busy

     
  15.  
    09:38: Your views

    What do you think of BBC Local Live? We'd like your feedback about this service.

     
  16.  
    09:25: Windy drizzle

    It will be a windy and mostly cloudy day, although a few brighter intervals are also likely. Cloud may thicken at times to bring a few patches of drizzle mainly over high ground. It will feel mild, especially in more sheltered locations such as Lea Valley.

    Maximum Temperature: 12C (54F)

     
  17.  
    09:15: Liverpool 2 2 Arsenal Phil McNulty Chief football writer

    Martin Skrtel's equaliser seven minutes into stoppage time gave Liverpool a fully deserved point against Arsenal at Anfield.

    Martin Skrtel

    Read my full match report which includes analysis from Match of the Day analyst Phil Neville.

     
  18.  
    09:00: News on the hour

    The lead story in the capital at 09:00 on BBC London 94.9: A study by the Labour Party has found 75% of councils are turning off or dimming street lights late at night to save money. In Barnet 92% of lights are dimmed at night.

     
  19.  
    08:53: On air listener special

    On Vanessa Feltz's programme it's our lovely listener special. The programme will be guest edited by two listeners and we have an invited audience of 40 people.

    You can listen live on BBC London 94.9 and contact the team on 020 7224 2000.

     
  20.  
    @VanessaOnAir 08:45: On Air

    The producers on Vanessa Fletz's programme tweet: Today on @BBCLondon949 it's our lovely listener special! Here are our guest editors hard at work choosing the stories

    Guest editors

    You can listen live on BBC London 94.9.

     
  21.  
    08:32: Faberge works stolen

    A number of "high value" items including jewellery, antiques and rare works by Faberge have reportedly been stolen from the headquarters of Christie's the auctioneers in St James's.

    The burglary's said to have happened two weeks ago and Scotland Yard says there've been no arrests.

     
  22.  
    08:23: DNA scheme to fight cancer James Gallagher Health editor, BBC News website

    A new genetics project could help "unlock a series of secrets about devastating diseases", the NHS says.

    DNA

    Under the scheme, 11 Genomics Medicine Centres are being set up in to gather DNA information to help devise targeted treatments for a wide range of diseases including cancer.

    The London trusts taking part in the trial are Guy's and St Thomas', Great Ormond Street Hospital and Imperial College Healthcare.

     
  23.  
    08:14: Train delays Louise Pepper Journalist, BBC London

    On the trains, Southern services are suspended between Clapham Junction and Milton Keynes Central due to a staff shortage. Disruption is expected all day.

    Overground has no service between Surrey Quays and New Cross due to planned engineering works.

    And there are no services at London Bridge until 4 January from Southern and Thameslink. Get the latest with BBC Travel.

     
  24.  
    08:07: On the roads Louise Pepper Journalist, BBC London

    On the M3 it's slow northbound from J3, at Bagshot, towards the M25, due to roadworks.

    There's also reports of a crash on the A12 westbound after Green Man roundabout, which is causing delays.

    Get the latest and see traffic cameras with BBC Travel.

     
  25.  
    08:00: Beth Rose BBC News Online

    Good morning, I'll be guiding you through BBC Local Live today.

    Get in touch with your comments and photos by emailing london.locallive@bbc.co.uk or tweet us @BBCLondonNews.

     

Features

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • MouseEscape the rat race

    Burnt out? Meet the workers who took more than a vacation - and changed their lives

Programmes

  • (File photo) A man dressed as Father Christmas with a sleigh and a reindeer Click Watch

    A website which tracks Father Christmas, plus other sites and apps to keep you entertained

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.