Saatchi finance director says Nigella PA bills 'not scrutinised'

Rahul Gajjar Rahul Gajjar said his role was to "look after business" not home-spending

Charles Saatchi's accountant has told a court he did not scrutinise bills for credit cards used by Nigella Lawson's assistants because it was "not my job".

Rahul Gajjar, finance director for Ms Lawson's ex-husband, said his team were "there to look after business" and not to check home-spending.

He was giving evidence at Isleworth Crown Court in the trial of Francesca, 35, and Elisabetta Grillo, 41.

The sisters deny fraudulently using credit cards.

The Grillos' defence has claimed the pair, of Kensington Gardens Square, Bayswater, were given permission to use the business cards by Ms Lawson to cover her use of drugs.

Mr Gajjar told the court Coutts cards were issued to the personal assistants after Mr Saatchi decided to use credit cards for all household spending.

'Cheaper on eBay'

"We would look through the summaries [to] see what the general spending would be, but in terms of the detail we wouldn't get involved in 'what's this [or] that for?'"

Anthony Metzer QC, defending Elizabetta Grillo, asked Mr Gajjar if he would have been concerned if a large sum had been spent.

"If Charles wanted to buy an expensive gift for Nigella, it would not be my job to say 'you could have got it cheaper on eBay'," he said.

When questioned whether Mr Saatchi was aware that the cards were not being scrutinised, he said his employer was "well aware that we have never scrutinised his home expenses".

"It was for the home to consider these expenses," he said.

Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi An email from the Grillo sisters described Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi as "our English family"

The court heard there were a few occasions when Francesca's credit card was declined while on holiday, possibly because it had exceeded its limit, and that she sent Mr Gajjur a text message about it.

He said: "There were a few occurrences where we had to raise the limit because previously he [Mr Saatchi] didn't want the card to be stopped when it involved the house and the children."

Asked if he had considered that Francesca was taking cash out on her credit card, he said: "I don't know if I considered cash", but added that Mr Saatchi and Ms Lawson regularly requested bundles of cash for the home.

'Team Cupcake'

An email from the sisters, which begged Ms Lawson and Mr Saatchi for forgiveness, was read out in court.

In it, they said: "We are at our utmost despair and we are reaching out to you in the sincere hope that somewhere in your hearts you will find a way to forgive us and believe that we never meant in any way to be seem to be disloyal or to seem like we took advantage of our positions.

"We truly believe that we had a bond like a family.

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

"You were, as you often said to us, our English family and we saw you like a mother and father figure in our lives over these 10-14 years that we have known you.

"There is not a worse feeling [than] thinking we have in any way let down our family and we are deeply sorry and full of regret.

"All we want to do is put this right and make amends."

Ms Lawson's personal assistant Anzelle Wasserman then gave evidence. She was asked by Mr Metzer if she was part of "Team Cupcake", a name given to Ms Lawson's supporters.

Start Quote

It was always a specific gift, it was never open-ended, buy yourself a gift. It was specific”

End Quote Anzelle Wasserman

She replied she was, and had left the family home when Ms Lawson did, following the incident at Scott's restaurant where Mr Saatchi was photographed with his hands around Ms Lawson's neck.

Ms Wasserman told the court she had three bank cards she could use: one credit card linked to Mr Saatchi's business, one linked to Ms Lawson's business, and a debit card which took money from Ms Lawson's account.

The employee said all of the payments she made were on behalf of the couple's children or had been explicitly authorised by Mr Saatchi or Ms Lawson.

She said she had not used the cards to buy food, drinks and entertainment for herself and her friends.

Ms Wasserman said when she was given her credit card, it was clear what the rules were.

She told jurors she was allowed to use it for personal spending, but only on instruction from Mr Saatchi or Ms Lawson for something specific for something like a birthday.

"It was always a specific gift, it was never open-ended, buy yourself a gift. It was specific."

A list of payments made on Ms Wasserman's staff credit card was read out in court. It included:

  • £2,250 to Shi Cashmere for cashmere jumpers for Ms Lawson from her former husband
  • £24,866 on flowers for the house
  • £10,564 on VIP Glastonbury Festival tickets for the couple's children
  • £28,834 on ticket website Tickets to See
  • £2,240 at Ralph Lauren
  • £3,734 to Annabel's private members club for Mr Saatchi's red wine

The case continues.

More on This Story

Related Stories

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

BBC London

Weather

London

12 °C 5 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    14:26: Christmases past and present Andy Dangerfield BBC News Online

    Which London street boasted these Christmas lights in 1959?

    Christmas lights

    From balloons and horses to traditional crowns and stars, Christmas decorations in all shapes, sizes and colours have brightened up England's streets over the years. Enjoy some examples of the past here.

     
  2.  
    14:15: Woman, 89, dies in collision

    An 89-year-old female pedestrian died after being hit by a car on Lewisham Way earlier, Scotland Yard said.

    At this early stage it is believed the accident involved a blue BMW, police said

     
  3.  
    14:05: Breaking News

    Court of Appeal judges have rejected a challenge by the family of Mark Duggan over police procedures following fatal shootings by armed officers.

    In January an inquest jury found Mr Duggan, 29, was lawfully killed in August 2011 in Tottenham, north London, despite being unarmed.

     
  4.  
    13:59: News on the hour BBC London 94.9 Radio

    Emergency crews are expecting one of the busiest nights of the year as revellers make the most of the last Friday before Christmas.

    For more listen live to BBC London 94.9.

     
  5.  
    13:41: Premiership wage cap BBC Sport

    Saracens have called for the Premiership wage cap to be abolished and say that they have the backing of six other top-flight teams.

    Chris Ashton England international Chris Ashton was a standout signing for Saracens from Northampton in 2012

    Premiership clubs are restricted to spending £5m on player salaries, with that rising to £5.5m next season.

     
  6.  
    13:31: East London bridge proposals

    Chris McTighe emailed: "Surely priority must be given to at least two more bridges east of the Tower.

    "These will take the pressure off the Dart crossing and Wapping."

    What do you think? Email london.locallive@bbc.co.uk

     
  7.  
    13:20: Lunchtime news BBC London News TV

    On the lunchtime news: Three teenagers have been jailed at the Old Bailey for murdering another man with an axe. Paul Thrower, who was drunk at the time, died after two 18 year olds hacked at him and stabbed him ten times at a block of flats in Hayes in February.

    Join the BBC London News team at 13:30 on BBC One.

     
  8.  
    13:11: On this day

    In 1851, painter Joseph Turner died in his Chelsea house under the assumed name of Admiral Booth, where his demand for privacy was strictly enforced by his housekeeper.

     
  9.  
    13:00: News on the hour BBC London 94.9 Radio

    Friends and colleagues have been paying tribute to a woman who was stabbed to death in Harrow following what police say was a dispute between next door neighbours, possibly over a parking space.

    Listen to BBC London 94.9.

     
  10.  
    12:48: Teens jailed over axe killing

    Three teenagers have been jailed at the Old Bailey for their part in a axe and knife attack on Handyman Paul Thrower, who died at a block of flats in Hayes, west London, on 20 February.

    The defendants

    Kiro Halliburton was found guilty of murder while Zakariya Subeir and Mahdi Osman, also 18, were found not guilty of murder but convicted of manslaughter.

    Halliburton was jailed for a minimum of 16 years, Subeir to eight years in a young offenders' institution with an extended licence period of a further four years, and Osman to five-and-a-half years.

     
  11.  
    12:40: Cycle Superhighway upgrade

    Responding to Transport for London's announcement on strong public support for the Cycle Superhighway 2 upgrade, Labour London Assembly member Val Shawcross said: "It comes as no surprise that the vast majority of people support plans to make Cycle Superhighway 2 safer with greater segregation.

    "Whilst the upgrade is entirely welcome the fact that CS2 is having to be entirely re-done shows just how wrong Boris Johnson got the scheme in the first place."

     
  12.  
    12:32: 'Money ploughed into the project'

    Responding to the Mayor of London's approval for the Garden Bridge, Labour London Assembly's John Biggs said: "It's obvious that the Garden Bridge is primarily a tourist attraction not a transport scheme, as such you really have to wonder whether this TfL funding could not have been better spent.

    "The mayor needs to be clear that no more taxpayer money will be ploughed into the project."

     
  13.  
    12:22: Homophobic abuse on Tube

    British Transport Police officers are appealing to the public to help identify a woman after a 23-year-old man was subjected to a prolonged homophobic verbal tirade by on the Tube.

    Police want to identify this woman

    "As the train approached Northwood, a woman opposite the man began shouting foul-mouthed homophobic abuse at him," PC Natalie Fairhurst said. "She followed the victim off the train, haranguing him all the way to the station exit."

     
  14.  
    12:13: East London 'priority' for bridges

    Business group London First's David Leam responded to news that a garden bridge across the Thames has been approved saying: "The short-term the Bridge's impact on jobs and growth in the city would be dwarfed by tunnels or bridges proposed at Silvertown and Gallions Reach in east London, on which progress has been painfully slow."

    "We'd like to see the London mayor applying a similar bit of elbow grease to getting crossings built east of Tower Bridge. In terms of economic growth, those are the priorities. "

     
  15.  
    12:06: Murder in 'parking row'

    A woman fatally stabbed in a north-west London street may have been attacked in a row over parking, Scotland Yard said.

    Alexandra Avenue, Harrow

    Alison Morrison, 45, was attacked in Alexandra Avenue, Harrow, at about 07:45 yesterday and died four hours later in hospital.

     
  16.  
    11:59: News on the hour BBC London 94.9 Radio

    An open verdict's been recorded on a nurse who worked in the special care baby unit at Homerton Hospital, and whose mummified body was discovered in her flat.

    Listen to BBC London 94.9.

     
  17.  
    11:50: Marcus Innocent shooting

    A 26-year-old man has been jailed in connection with the death of a man who was shot dead in Woolwich.

    Raffael Scialo, of Elmbrook Road, Shooters Hill, was jailed for two years for violent disorder.

     
  18.  
    11:39: Festive travel

    Find out what Tube, train and bus services are running over the Christmas break - and when the Congestion Charge takes a holiday - with our comprehensive travel guide (pdf), courtesy of BBC London 94.9's travel presenter Paul Murphy-Kasp.

     
  19.  
    11:31: 'Pointless' and 'expensive' bridge Andy Dangerfield BBC News Online

    Thanks to Robert Hanks who emailed in to say the approved Thames garden bridge is "pointless, expensive, destroys views" and "sucks in public subsidy for private development".

    Do you agree? Email london.locallive@bbc.co.uk

     
  20.  
    11:26: 'Very unique' Facebook

    On the approved garden bridge that will be built across the Thames, reader Oyuna Oyuna says on Facebook: Would be great to see that bridge, no doubt that would be something very unique and fantastic!

     
  21.  
    11:17: Ruling on police shooting death

    The Court of Appeal is due to rule on a challenge by the family of Mark Duggan - who was shot by police in 2011 sparking riots in Tottenham - after an inquest jury found he was lawfully killed by a police marksman.

    Mark Duggan

    His family claim there was an unlawful failure to prevent police officers conferring with each other before making statements.

     
  22.  
    11:06: Garden bridge 'modern day folly' Facebook

    On the story that a garden bridge has been approved to cross the Thames in central London, BBC website reader Ella Mitchell commented on Facebook: That's a lot of dosh for a modern day folly!! How many libraries and hospitals would this help!?!

    Do you agree? Join the discussion on Facebook.

     
  23.  
    10:57: News on the hour BBC London 94.9 Radio

    Friends and colleagues of a woman who was stabbed to death in Harrow yesterday morning have been paying tribute to her.

    Listen to BBC London 94.9 at 11:00 to find out more.

     
  24.  
    10:50: Your comments on the garden bridge Andy Dangerfield BBC News Online

    Thanks for your comments on the story that a garden bridge across the Thames has been approved by Boris Johnson.

    Annie Cee said: £175 million would go a long way toward ending food poverty, homelessness and endless social issues effecting vulnerable folk in this City. Priorities, Boris!

    Do you agree? Comment on Facebook.

     
  25.  
    10:37: London Bridge partly closes

    One of London's busiest transport hubs partly closes today which could disrupt up to 12 million commuter journeys over Christmas.

    New platforms at London Bridge

    A reduced service will run from London Bridge station while work is under-taken to open two new platforms at a cost of £6.5bn. Southern and Thameslink trains will not call at London Bridge for about 16 days.

     
  26.  
    10:27: Camden Labour councillor dies

    Following news that Camden Labour Councillor Peter Brayshaw has died, Camden Labour's leader Sarah Hayward said: "The whole of Camden Labour is shocked and saddened by the death of our dear comrade."

    Mr Brayshaw served three times as a councillor - since 2010, in the mid 2000s and in the early 1990s.

     
  27.  
    10:17: Garden Bridge's opponents

    The Garden Bridge has previously been criticised by nearby residents and political opponents for its location and design.

    Earlier this year, shadow transport minister Lord Davies of Oldham described the bridge as a "very expensive piece of public art".

     
  28.  
    10:10: Cycle Superhighway 'watered down'

    A revised plan for the Cycle Superhighway 2 upgrade, between Aldgate and Bow roundabout, has been published.

    cs2

    But the London Cycling Campaign says the plans are "watered down".

     
  29.  
    10:05: NHS strike

    NHS workers in England will strike for 12 hours on 29 January, and ambulance staff will walk out on 29 and 30 January in disputes over pay, Unison and the GMB have announced.

     
  30.  
    10:00: News on the hour BBC London 94.9 Radio

    London Cycling Campaign's accused Transport for London of "watering down" plans to upgrade Cycle Superhighway 2 between Aldgate and the Bow roundabout.

    Listen to BBC London 94.9 to find out more.

     
  31.  
    09:47: 'Stunning oasis'

    Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "The Garden Bridge will provide a fantastic new landmark for London whilst supporting regeneration and economic growth on both sides of the Thames.

    Garden Bridge

    "It will create a stunning oasis of tranquillity in the heart of our city and boost our plans to encourage walking in the city."

     
  32.  
    09:40: Hero PC reunited with rescued baby

    Here's a heart-warming story for Christmas.

    Quick-thinking police officer Steve Norton, who saved baby Harrison Paine's life when he sprinted to hospital with him in his arms, has been reunited with him for Christmas. Full story and photos in the Wandsworth Guardian.

     
  33.  
    09:28: Bridge to attract 'seven million people'

    It is estimated that the Garden Bridge will attract seven million trips per year using it as a new way to cross the river.

    Garden bridge

    The bridge will include a major new public space and garden that will be free to access and will feature 270 trees as well as shrubs, climbing plants, hedges and flowers.

    What do you think? Email us.

     
  34.  
    09:21: Have your say Andy Dangerfield BBC News Online

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

     
  35.  
    09:12: Garden bridge

    Designed by Thomas Heatherwick - who created the cauldron for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games - the Garden Bridge will be 366m long and will connect Temple on the north bank to the South Bank.

    Garden Bridge
     
  36.  
    09:02: Vanessa Feltz BBC London 94.9 Radio

    Parking in London - how big a problem is it?

    Can you park outside your house ? Tell Vanessa on BBC London 94.9 now.

     
  37.  
    08:57: News on the hour BBC London 94.9 Radio

    Police investigating a fatal stabbing in Harrow say it was triggered by a dispute between neighbours, possibly over a parking space.

    Listen to BBC London 94.9 to find out more.

     
  38.  
    08:49: Garden Bridge approved

    Construction of a new Garden Bridge over the River Thames could begin next year after the scheme was given the green light by the Mayor of London's office.

    Garden bridge

    Lambeth and Westminster councils had already granted planning permission for the bridge which was the idea of the actress Joanna Lumley. But opponents say it will block views of St Paul's Cathedral and, at £175m, is too expensive.

     
  39.  
    08:38: Gas work delays BBC London Travel

    The A23 Brixton Road is down to one lane northbound at the junction with Stockwell Road while gas works are carried out which is causing queuing traffic along Brixton Hill

    And there are anti-clockwise delays on the M25 between J25 A10 Enfield towards J23 A1(M) at South Mimms following an accident.

     
  40.  
    08:29: Broken down train BBC London Travel

    South West trains between Wimbledon and Waterloo are disrupted due to a broken down train.

    And Southern trains between Brighton and Victoria, Thameslink services between Brighton and Bedford and the Gatwick Express are running with delays of 30 minutes following signal problems.

     
  41.  
    08:25: Charge over teen abduction attempts

    A man from Wood Green has been charged with two counts of attempted abduction after a man allegedly tried to persuade teenage girls to get in his car in Hornsey High Street.

    The 25-year-old is due before Highbury Corner magistrates on Monday, police said.

     
  42.  
    08:19: Anniversary appeal over shot father

    Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward with information about the murder of Davion Watt, who was shot dead on Coldharbour Lane in Brixton exactly six years ago today.

    Davion Watt

    On the anniversary of his death, police say they're hoping for new evidence to emerge so Davion's family can get the justice they desperately want.

     
  43.  
    08:10: Temperature to drop

    Any rain and cloud should clear to the south-east this morning leaving plenty of sunshine for most of the day.

    Highs of 12C (54F) are expected to be reached this morning before temperatures gradually drop through the day.

     
  44.  
    08:00: Good morning Andy Dangerfield 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

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.