Nigella Lawson had powder-covered banknotes in handbag, PA claims

Francesca Grillo Francesca Grillo says she saw evidence of drug use at Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson's home

A former personal assistant accused of defrauding Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson has said she regularly found rolled-up bank notes with white powder on them in the TV chef's handbags.

Francesca Grillo, 35, told Isleworth Crown Court she also found evidence of cannabis being smoked in the couple's house.

Ms Lawson has denied being an addict or having a drug problem.

Francesca and her sister Elisabetta Grillo, 41, deny fraud.

While stating she had never seen Ms Lawson taking drugs, Francesca Grillo told the court she first saw rolled-up notes in the cook's home following a party.

Start Quote

Every time I went through her handbag there was some notes. It was very frequent”

End Quote Francesca Grillo

She said part of her duties was to transfer items between her employer's handbags and she would find rolled-up notes inside.

When questioned about how many times it had happened, she replied: "Frequently. Every time I went through her handbag there was some notes. It was very frequent."

Ms Grillo told the court that one of the couple's children found a hollowed-out book containing white powder which belonged to Ms Lawson.

When asked if she had ever asked Ms Lawson about drugs, Ms Grillo replied: "No. I didn't think it was my place."

'Too white for makeup'

Ms Grillo also alleged that Ms Lawson would sometimes come downstairs with white powder on her nose and she would point it out to her, but the food writer would say it was make-up.

When questioned by the defence counsel Karina Arden if the substance could have been a cosmetic Ms Grillo said it was "too white to be make-up".

She told the jury that Ms Lawson often had a runny nose.

The court heard that Mr Saatchi and Ms Lawson's children informed Ms Grillo that the TV chef smoked cannabis with them when she could not sleep.

Nigella Lawson Nigella Lawson has denied having a drug problem

The former personal assistant also said that she found cannabis in a child's room at the couple's home and that Ms Lawson would regularly drink from bottles of liquid medication.

"Tazepam, Xanax... Ms Lawson had medication for depression," said Ms Grillo.

"She would take it directly from the bottle."

'Picking her nose'

She said she did not mention the alleged drug use until photos emerged of Mr Saatchi grasping Ms Lawson by the neck at a London restaurant.

"The one that stuck in my mind was the one of him picking her nose. Maybe he found something relating to drugs," she said.

She added that she thought if Mr Saatchi did not know about his wife's drug use then "he probably didn't know about the authorisation" by Ms Lawson of the sisters' personal spending.

Ms Grillo said Mr Saatchi asked to see her in July after his financial director Rahul Gajjar confronted her and Elisabetta with credit card statements.

The previous day, Mr Gajjar had asked the sisters to sign a letter admitting dishonesty and promising to continue working for the celebrity couple for a reduced salary for an unlimited period of time.

When they chose not to, Mr Saatchi said he would "destroy" the sisters, Ms Grillo said.

She said he told her: "Hide anywhere in Italy but I will find you and destroy you. You don't cross Charles Saatchi, everyone knows that."

'Protect them'

Francesca Grillo and her sister Elisabetta, of Kensington Gardens Square, Bayswater, west London, deny charges of of defrauding their former employers by spending £685,000 on credit cards belonging to them.

Start Quote

I was trying to protect them, not to be headliners”

End Quote Francesca Grillo

Francesca previously told the court she had been given a company credit card and was allowed to use it to buy items for herself, with the authorisation of her employees.

Prosecutor Jane Carpenter said she took out £111,000 in cash between 2008 and 2012 which was not authorised by Mr Saatchi and Ms Lawson.

The court heard details of clothing purchased by Ms Grillo and many overseas trips made by the PA to destinations including Paris, New York and Amsterdam, staying at top hotels and shopping in designer stores.

On a four-day trip to New York she was accused of spending around £8,000 on herself which was not authorised.

Ms Carpenter also claimed Ms Grillo wrote to Ms Lawson only to avoid being charged.

But the defendant told the court the proceedings "bring things that perhaps some people don't want to say".

"I was trying to protect them, not to be headliners," she added.

The trial continues.

More on This Story

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

BBC London

Weather

London

Min. Night 9 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    Stabbing update 16:51: Jonathan Savage BBC London 94.9

    A 15-year-old boy is in hospital with life-threatening injuries after being stabbed on a bus in Sutton.

    Scotland Yard says he was attacked at about 14:30 while on a 151 bus near the Rosehill Roundabout.

    It is understood he managed to get off the bus before collapsing on the pavement. The police have not yet made any arrests.

     
  2.  
    Last two BST sunsets 16:47:

    Sunset is at 17:49 today, 17:47 tomorrow and 16:45 on Sunday when the clocks will have changed.

     
  3.  
    Family chemical death 16:37:

    A Met officer has said police were "overcome with fumes" when they were called to the home of Heena Solanki in Ruislip.

    Heena Solanki and her daughter Jasmine Heena Solanki and her daughter Jasmine

    In a statement her widower, Kalpesh Solanki, said: "Prior to her death I believed that Heena was happy and content. The only thing that I was aware of that made her unhappy was that we lived with my parents."

     
  4.  
    Teen stabbed in Sutton 16:25:

    Sutton Guardian reports a teenager has been left with "life threatening injuries" after he was stabbed in broad daylight near the Rose Hill roundabout.

     
  5.  
    Costa could start against Man Utd 16:19:

    Diego Costa could start Chelsea's Premier League showdown with Manchester United, despite a virus which required hospital treatment.

     
  6.  
    Protest over patient treatment 16:09:

    A hospital accused of giving up on a man in intensive care has promised to bring in an independent expert to assess him.

    Marcus Campbell

    Marcus Campbell, 22, has a rare brain condition and is being treated at Croydon University Hospital in south London.

    His family says, against their wishes, the hospital will not resuscitate the father-of-two if his heart stops. They have organised a petition and protests outside the hospital.

     
  7.  
    News on the hour 15:57: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    The bulletin at 16:00 from Emma North includes:

    • Amputees could be able to re-grow missing limbs as part of pioneering research at Imperial College London.
    • Protesters trying to occupy Parliament Square returned last night to try to gain entry after being prevented from doing so earlier this week
    • CCTV images have been released after an attempted arson on a petrol station in Greenwich
     
  8.  
    Chemicals death inquest 15:48:

    A mother poisoned herself and her daughters aged four and nine by drinking acid after struggling to get on with her live-in mother and father-in-law, West London Coroner's Court has heard.

    Prisha Solanki

    Biochemist Heena Solanki, 34, had taken the chemical from a locked cupboard at the school where she worked as a lab technician.

     
  9.  
    Croydon Fire 15:40:

    TfL says the A212 Wellesley Road in Croydon has now reopened northbound but with police directing traffic past the scene. Residual delays remain.

    Fire in Croydon
     
  10.  
    Clocks change 15:33:

    We finally get that extra hour in bed when the clocks go back this weekend!

    The clocks go back one hour at 02:00 on Sunday, meaning the country will be on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), giving us light mornings and darker evenings.

    Factoid: Moving the clocks was first introduced during World War One by Germany and Austria to save on coal usage.

     
  11.  
    Croydon Fire 15:24:

    The Croydon Guardian tweets this picture of the fire at Delta Point tower put out earlier.

    Croydon fire
     
  12.  
    Feedback 15:20:

    We've introduced BBC Local Live to bring you news, sport, travel and weather updates in one place. We'd like to know what you think.

     
  13.  
    Petrol station fire 15:13: via Facebook

    On the man seen starting a petrol fire, Elaine James writes: Thanks to a quick witted person who doused it... it could have been a major incident if he hadn't acted so quickly!

    John W Townsend writes: Do these people really exist? What a pointless life they must have.

     
  14.  
    Watch: Man starts petrol fire 15:06:
  15.  
    News on the hour 14:59: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    The bulletin this hour includes:

    • Amputees could be able to re-grow missing limbs as part of pioneering research at Imperial College London.
    • Protestors trying to occupy Parliament Square returned last night to try to gain entry after being prevented from doing so earlier this week.
     
  16.  
    Firefighters to strike 14:50:

    Firefighters in England are to strike for four days from October 31 in their row with the Government over pensions, the Fire Brigades Union announced today.

     
  17.  
    Tower block fire 14:43:

    London Fire Brigade tweets: The fire at the disused office in #Croydon is now under control. 10 people left the building before the arrival of the Brigade.

     
  18.  
    Hammer Carroll nears return 14:38:

    West Ham manager Sam Allardyce says the club's record signing Andy Carroll could return in "two to three weeks".

     
  19.  
    West Ham's turnaround 14:27: Robbie Savage BBC football pundit

    When I spoke about West Ham on Match of the Day after they beat Crystal Palace at the end of August, I said how impressed I was with the way they were playing. Read more.

     
  20.  
    The deception 14:16:

    Read more from Dominic Casciani on 'the undercover cop, his lover and their son'.

    Bob Lambert

    He reports both the policeman's children in his "non-undercover" life died from a rare genetic disorder. Until he was revealed in public and spoke to 'Jacqui', she did not know that her son could be facing the same risk.

     
  21.  
    Tower block fire 14:06:

    The Croydon Guardian is publishing live updates with photos and video of a tower block fire.

    Six fire engines are tackling the blaze at Delta Point, former home of BT, in Wellesley Road.

     
  22.  
    News on the hour 13:57:

    Coming up in the 14:00 bulletin on BBC London 94.9:

    CCTV images have been released of what appears to be an attempted arson on a petrol station in Greenwich.

     
  23.  
    Drogba update 13:49:

    Chelsea FC tweets: Mourinho reports Didier Drogba has trained well this week but he does not know if he will start on Sunday. #CFC

     
  24.  
    Croydon fire 13:39:

    A fire has broken out a disused tower block in Croydon town centre.

    Croydon Guardian reports a thick plume of black smoke and flames can be seen at the top of Delta Point, the former home of BT, in Wellesley Road.

    London Fire Brigade has tweeted part of the roof is alight.

     
  25.  
    Gallows Corner works 13:36:

    London Mayor Boris Johnson has confirmed that work by TfL to improve the Gallows Corner junction will be completed in 18 months, reports the Romford Recorder.

     
  26.  
    "Queeting" unlikely to be prolific 13:26: Peter Hunt Royal correspondent, BBC News

    Royal official: "it's a reasonable assumption that Her Majesty may not become the most prolific individual tweeter."

    The Queen at the Science Museum
     
  27.  
    Dartford Tunnel shut 13:18:

    BBC London Travel tweets: The #Dartford Tunnel has been shut since 11:50ish -queues back towards J3. Xdnt at the tunn end {BR}

     
  28.  
    Queen's first tweet 13:17: The Guardian

    asks how the Queen's first tweet measures up compared with others, including Stephen Fry and Barack Obama.

     
  29.  
    Tiny home sells for £275k 13:09: The Daily Mail

    A former flower shop measuring just 188 sq ft in Islington has sold for £275,000, the Daily Mail reports.

     
  30.  
    News on the hour 12:59: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    The news bulletin at 13:00 includes:

    • A 26-year-old man suspected of intending to travel to Syria to fight has appeared before magistrates.
    • A woman who had a child with an undercover police officer and didn't learn who he really was for 25 years, is to receive more than £400,000 in compensation from Scotland Yard.
     
  31.  
    Listen again 12:53: via Facebook

    Mark in Woodford tells Vanessa that he knew police killer Harry Roberts in prison and he is "a changed man".

     
  32.  
    Coming Up 12:39: Alex Bushill BBC London News

    On the lunchtime news at 13:30, how amputees could be able to re-grow their missing limbs as part of pioneering research at Imperial College London. The 25-year, £60m programme, aims to explore the possibility of regenerating human tissue and eventually removing the need for prosthetic arms and legs. All that and a full weekend weather forecast.

     
  33.  
    Fancy this? 12:27: Sara Orchard BBC London Sport

    Fancy abseiling down the Orbit on the Olympic Park? I did a test drive for you this morning, more on @BBCLondonNews

    Sara's abseil
     
  34.  
    Listen: 'Expected to use sex' 12:18: BBC Radio 4

    Peter Francis worked in the now disbanded Special Demonstration Squad with Bob Lambert, who had a child with a woman he was secretly monitoring in the 1980s. He says officers were expected to have sexual relationships with people they were spying on.

     
  35.  
    Information Age gallery 12:17: Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

    The Information Age gallery, opened by the Queen this morning, has been three years in the planning, and is one of the most ambitious projects the museum has ever undertaken.

    A technician checks the Web story box display at the Information Age gallery
     
  36.  
    News on the hour 11:57: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    The bulletin at 12:00 includes:

    • A woman who had a child with an undercover police officer and didn't learn who he really was for 25 years is to receive more than £400,000 in compensation from Scotland Yard.
    • The Met Police use surveillance powers more than any other force in the UK according to the pressure group Big Brother Watch.
     
  37.  
    Royal tweet 11:50:

    The Science Museum tweets: .@BritishMonarchy We're honoured The Queen chose to open our Information Age gallery by sending her first tweet #smInfoAge #TheQueenTweets

     
  38.  
    Queen's first tweet 11:44:

    The Queen has sent her first tweet on a visit to the Science Museum.

    Twitter feed
     
  39.  
    'Chemicals' death inquest 11:42:

    The inquest into the deaths of Heena Solanki, 34, and her daughters Prisha, four, and Jasmine, nine, who were found dead at their family home in Ruislip, west London, is taking place this afternoon at West London Coroner's Court.

    The Solanki family
     
  40.  
    Luxury flat construction blocked 11:35:

    Vice reports people in Barnet are blocking the construction of luxury flats.

     
  41.  
    Terror suspect in court 11:27:

    Terror suspect, Tuhin Shanesha, 26, of Hudson Road in Southsea, Portsmouth, has been remanded in custody after appearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court, charged with preparing acts of terrorism.

    He was one of four people arrested as part of a number of warrants executed across Hampshire and London by officers from the South East Counter-Terrorism Unit last week.

     
  42.  
    One CCTV camera earns TfL £1m 11:18:

    A CCTV camera overlooking a tiny stretch of a road in Swiss Cottage has led to motorists being fined almost £1m in penalty charges over the past year alone - and many could be due for a refund, a London cab driver has discovered.

    See the Ham & High for the full story.

     
  43.  
    'Disorientated and destroyed' 11:05:

    'Jacqui' continues: "Precious memories and rites of passage that marked milestones in a woman's life have been corrupted and leave me feeling disorientated and destroyed.

    Bob Lambert

    "I don't know if he was paid overtime to be with me during the 14 hours of labour I went through giving birth to our son."

     
  44.  
    News on the hour 10:55: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    The headlines this hour include:

    • The Met Police use surveillance powers more than any other force in the UK according to the pressure group Big Brother Watch.
    • A woman who had a child with an undercover police officer and didn't learn who he really was for 25 years is to receive more than £400,000 in compensation from Scotland Yard.
    • Police investigating the disappearance of a man from King's Cross have found a body in the Thames near Vauxhall Bridge.
     
  45.  
    'First true love' 10:48:

    'Jacqui' says: "My world fell apart on 14th June 2012 when after 24 years I discovered that my first true love, and the father of my first child was a police officer paid to spy on me and my friends."

    Robert Lambert
     
  46.  
    Undercover victim 10:39: Matt Prodger Home affairs correspondent

    The statement from "Jacqui", whose child was fathered by a man who she did not know was an undercover police officer, is a tough read.

     
  47.  
    Have your say 10:32:

    We've introduced BBC Local Live to bring you news, sport, travel and weather updates in one place. We'd like to know what you think.

     
  48.  
    Mistaken identity 10:27: Sonja Jessup Presenter, BBC London News

    tweets: Just been mistaken for a police officer at Isleworth Crown Court. I guess I'm among the few people not wearing a wig.

     
  49.  
    MI5 wartime agent was bank clerk 10:23:

    A wartime MI5 agent who revealed a network of UK-based Nazi sympathisers, has been identified as a bank clerk from Surrey who worked in central London.

    MI5 agent Eric Roberts
     
  50.  
    Body of missing man found 10:13:

    Officers investigating the disappearance of 29-year-old Richard MacKenzie have found his body. The police say it was found in the River Thames near Vauxhall Bridge on Wednesday and the death is being treated as non-suspicious.

     
  51.  
    Queen to visit Science Museum 10:06:

    The Queen will be shown technological wonders from the past 200 years when she opens a major new gallery at the Science Museum later.

    The new attraction features more than 800 objects and explores how breakthroughs have transformed the way people have communicated since the early 19th century.

     
  52.  
    News on the hour 09:55: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    The bulletin this hour includes:

    • The lawyer representing a woman who had a child with an undercover police officer says Scotland Yard's apology and offer of more than £400,000 in compensation aren't enough.
    • Police investigating the disappearance of a man from King's Cross have found a body in the Thames near Vauxhall Bridge
     
  53.  
    Piracy police given more money 09:42:

    More money is to be given to the City of London Police's Intellectual Property Crime Unit.

    The division deals exclusively with investigating digital piracy and counterfeited goods.

     
  54.  
    Lamela's wonder goal for Spurs 09:34:

    Mauricio Pochettino described Erik Lamela's wonder-strike during Tottenham's 5-1 win over Greek side Asteras Tripolis as "unbelievable".

    Erik Lamela
     
  55.  
    Firework sparks mews fire 09:27: London Evening Standard Newspaper

    A stray firework narrowly missed a pedestrian before setting a £3 million South Kensington mews house on fire, reports the Evening Standard.

     
  56.  
    Jones on Parliament Square 09:21:

    London Assembly Member Jenny Jones who was arrested in Parliament Square on Tuesday tweets: I'm very angry at what has happened to the #Occupy protesters: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/24/arrested-parliament

     
  57.  
    Term-time holiday turnaround 09:13: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    On now until 12:00, council leaders in England want to scrap the ban on parents taking their children on holiday during term-time.

    Last year, fines were brought in to reduce unauthorised absences from school but the Local Government Association says it should be down to head teachers to take a "common sense" approach on the issue. What do you think? Call Vanessa Feltz on 020 7224 2000.

     
  58.  
    Watch: Weekend weather 09:08:
  59.  
    News on the hour 08:58: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    The bulletin at 09:00 from Matt Schofield includes:

    • Scotland Yard's paying more than £400,000 in compensation to an animal rights activist who had a child with an undercover officer in the 1980s.
    • The Met Police use surveillance powers more than any other force in the UK according to the pressure group Big Brother Watch.
     
  60.  
    Undercover officers 08:54: BBC Radio 4

    Sex "was used by almost everybody" and you were "expected to engage in relationships" says former undercover officer Peter Francis on the Today programme.

     
  61.  
    'May have burnt eyebrows' 08:50:

    Police say a man who started a fire at a petrol station in Greenwich "may have burnt his eyebrows as well as his hair".

    Anyone with information should call Det Con Buckwell at Greenwich CID on 020 8284 9416 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

     
  62.  
    Top headlines
     
  63.  
    Watch: Man tries to start petrol fire 08:40:

    Police hoping to identify a man who started a fire at a petrol station, have released shocking CCTV images.

    CCTV image
     
  64.  
    Apology over 'pain and suffering' 08:30:

    The woman, known only as Jacqui, told BBC News she had received psychiatric care after learning the officer's real identity.

    Father and child

    The force said it "unreservedly apologises for any pain and suffering".

     
  65.  
    Payout over secret PC's child 08:24:

    The Metropolitan Police is to pay £425,000 to a woman whose child was fathered by a man who she did not know was an undercover police officer.

    Jacqui with her son Jacqui and her son: Spent years trying to work out where Bob the father had gone

    The unprecedented payment comes after a legal battle with women who say they were duped into relationships with officers who were spying on them.

     
  66.  
    M25 fire 08:19: Paul Murphy-Kasp Journalist, BBC London

    On the M25 there is queuing from J18 for Chorleywood to J16 for the M40 after a car caught fire earlier on.

    For the latest information news go to our travel page or on Twitter @BBCLondonTravel.

     
  67.  
    Gipsy Hill closed 08:16: Paul Murphy-Kasp Journalist, BBC London

    Gypsy Hill is closed between Gipsy Road and the Hollybush traffic lights for repairs after a sewer collapse.

    For the latest information news go to our travel page or on Twitter @BBCLondonTravel.

     
  68.  
    Heavy rain, then drier 08:07:

    There will be periods of rain, some heavy, during the day. It will become drier and brighter later in the afternoon. Maximum temperature: 15C (59F).

    Weather chart
     
  69.  
    08:00: Josephine McDermott BBC News Online

    I'll be bringing you the latest news, sport, travel and weather from across the capital today for BBC Local Live.

    You can also send your news, pictures and comments to london.locallive@bbc.co.uk or tweet @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.