Charles Saatchi 'made threat to destroy' Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson was flanked by police officers as she arrived at court

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TV cook and author Nigella Lawson has told a court her ex-husband Charles Saatchi threatened to "destroy" her with "false" allegations of drug use.

She said he made the threat after she had shown reluctance to give evidence at the trial of her assistants, sisters Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo.

The Italian sisters deny fraud.

Isleworth Crown Court has been told by their defence they were allowed to spend on credit cards by Ms Lawson in return for covering up her cocaine use.

She said that the allegations that have been made about her at the trial had followed "a long summer of bullying and abuse" from her then husband, to whom she referred as "Mr Saatchi" while giving evidence.

"I have been put on trial here where I am called to answer, and glad to answer the allegations, and [in] the world's press," she said.

Ms Lawson said she had been reluctant to give evidence in the trial, which had provoked an angry reaction from Mr Saatchi.

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

'Broke our heart'

Start Quote

I don't understand why my marriage is pertinent to you”

End Quote Nigella Lawson, addressing Anthony Metzer QC

Ms Lawson said following the "awful incident at Scotts", the "false" drugs allegations began circulating on a "PR blog".

Mr Saatchi was cautioned for assault after images of him grasping Ms Lawson by the neck at the London restaurant appeared in a newspaper.

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

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

On Friday, Mr Saatchi told the court that he had "no proof" that Ms Lawson had ever taken drugs.

The couple divorced in July after 10 years of marriage.

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.

Ms Lawson told the court that Elisabetta did not have a strong moral compass, but she did not believe her "to be a bad person".

She said the 41-year-old was a "stalwart" who had helped her through the death of her first husband, John Diamond.

The TV cook said the allegations of fraud "broke our heart" when they were revealed to her and Mr Saatchi.

Ms Lawson said Elisabetta had been "a rock", adding: "I would have done anything for her."

'Team Cupcake'

Defending the Grillo sisters, Anthony Metzer QC asked Ms Lawson if Mr Saatchi had a temper.

She said he "did have a temper and I don't think that anyone can be in any doubt he had a temper", adding that she had confided in Elisabetta about Mr Saatchi's outbursts.

Nigella Lawson in court Nigella Lawson said she was bullied and abused

Ms Lawson told the court that Mr Saatchi used to shout and swear at her, and she told the defendant privately that "I don't know how long I can take this".

She added that it was "not beyond impossible to imagine" that Mr Saatchi had also lost his temper with Elisabetta.

Mr Metzer also asked about if she thought her background conflicted with Mr Saatchi's.

"I don't understand why my marriage is pertinent to you," she said.

Mr Metzer was then warned by Judge Robin Johnson that he should not "invite argument".

Ms Lawson also corrected the defence barrister, who had referred to her supporters as Team Nigella.

"No, they call themselves Team Cupcake," she said.

'Increasingly bitter'

Ms Lawson also revealed that she once took £7,000 out of her own savings to pay for Elisabetta, or Lisa as she is also known, to have her teeth fixed, "giving her incredible confidence".

She added that when Elisabetta left her job at one point, the family continued to pay her for three months so she would not feel "too anguished" about finding a new job.

She continued: "I didn't want her to feel that she had to stay with me." However, after Elisabetta returned she became "increasingly bitter", Ms Lawson said.

The court also heard that Elisabetta wanted to move out of the family home "because she said she didn't want to live with Mr Saatchi ever again".

The case continues.

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