Nigella Lawson 'not proud of drug use'

Nigella Lawson arrives at court for her second day giving evidence

Nigella Lawson has told a court she is "not proud" of having used drugs.

Giving evidence for a second day at Isleworth Crown Court, the TV cook said: "I would rather be honest and ashamed... not bullied with lies."

On Wednesday the 53-year-old admitted taking cocaine while she was living with her late husband, John Diamond, and her ex-husband, Charles Saatchi.

Her personal assistants, the Grillo sisters, Francesca, 35, and Elisabetta, 41, both deny fraud.

'Damage limitation'

The sisters are accused of abusing their positions by using a company credit card, spending more than £685,000. The Grillos' defence has claimed the sisters were allowed to spend by Ms Lawson to cover her use of drugs.

Start Quote

Mr Saatchi was not examining me for cocaine. That's a story he made up afterwards to clear his name”

End Quote Nigella Lawson

Responding to claims from the defence that she had not been honest about her drug use, Ms Lawson said: "No-one really wants their errors having the spotlight put on them.

"When I needed to tell the truth, I told the truth."

Under cross-examination, she said: "I'm not proud of the fact I have taken drugs but that does not make me a drug addict or a habitual drug user."

Ms Lawson was accused by defence barrister Karina Arden of using the court case as "damage limitation" and a vehicle to explain herself to the world's media.

She denied the allegation, saying she did not want to attend the hearing at all because she had been "menaced".

"I felt that I would be put on trial," she said. "I felt it was my duty to come. I certainly felt it would be an unpleasant experience, but that's not a good enough reason not to do one's duty."

Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi were granted a divorce in July

Earlier, Ms Lawson said she took cocaine six times with her first husband Mr Diamond after he found out his cancer was terminal. The court was told she first used the Class A drug with him in 1999.

She said she took it again in July 2010 after she felt she had been "subjected to intimate terrorism" by 70-year-old Mr Saatchi. She also admitted smoking cannabis in the last year of her marriage to the multi-millionaire art dealer and businessman.

Ms Lawson said her ex-husband had "made up" a story that he was examining her for cocaine after he was photographed gripping her throat and tweaking her nose outside Scott's restaurant in central London.

'Constant runny nose'

They divorced in July, months after the pictures emerged.

His claims of her being "completely off my head for 10 years" were also untrue, she said.

"I actually did say at the time it was the extent that was not true," she added.

Asked why she did not sue Mr Saatchi for libel, she said: "I can't afford it... knowing the person he is, he'd consider litigation as a form of communication."

Ms Lawson also dismissed allegations that drug dealers would routinely visit her home and that she was a regular user of cocaine.

"If you think that I was going to sabotage my health and leave my children orphans you are very wrong," she said.

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

Ms Lawson denied she kept cocaine in a hollow "fake book" alongside jewellery given to her by her mother and two grandmothers.

Ms Arden said the TV cook's daughter and a friend discovered the box, which contained cocaine, and called Francesca Grillo, who "tried to make up some sort of excuse to cover your back"- a claim Ms Lawson denied.

The television presenter also said it was "completely wrong" to suggest she frequently came downstairs at her home with white powder on her face or had a constant runny nose.

She did admit to once joking about having a "cocaine habit" with a staff member as she applied make-up.

As questions of her drug use continued, Ms Lawson said: "I really feel if you want to put me on trial, put me on trial. I don't feel it is right to have me here as a witness for the Crown and treat me like this."

'Disgusting and greedy'

Ms Lawson told the court there were "no written-down rules" about how staff could use credit cards provided to them by the couple.

But she added: "It was known, because it was spoken, that they were not for personal use except if directed.

"I think any normal person would think that someone else's credit card could not be used freely for someone else," she said, adding she would not say "go and treat yourself".

The television chef also said she could be "totally sure about the fact I didn't say go and spend £7,000 on designer clothes for yourself".

"I am a lot more puritanical about money than my ex-husband. I would never have thought it was alright to splash someone else's cash out in a disgusting and greedy way."

Ms Lawson has now finished giving evidence.

The trial was adjourned until Tuesday.

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