Nigella Lawson PA denies being 'shopaholic and fantasist'

Francesca Grillo Francesca Grillo said she had not lied in court

A former personal assistant accused of defrauding Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson has denied she is a "shopaholic" and a "fantasist".

Francesca Grillo, 35, said she "would have to disagree" with how the TV cook had described her.

She and sister Elisabetta, 41, are alleged to have spent £685,000 on credit cards belonging to the couple.

Isleworth Crown Court has heard the siblings, who deny the charges, bought designer clothes and luxury holidays.

Prosecutor Jane Carpenter said the younger sister had lied when she said her spending on a work credit card was authorised by Mr Saatchi and Ms Lawson.

"I haven't lied to this court," she said.

"I don't think I'm a fantasist as Ms Lawson suggested. I would have to disagree."

Ms Carpenter said the 35-year-old had admitted being a "shopaholic" in a phone call after the allegations of fraud came to light.

"I don't think so," Ms Grillo said.

'Bolder and greedier'

Making her closing statement, Ms Carpenter reminded the jury that it was the sisters facing the charges.

"It might have seemed at times that other people were on trial," she told them, adding that she was referring to Mr Saatchi and Ms Lawson.

She said it was "utter nonsense" that the now divorced couple would authorise the Grillos' alleged level of personal expenditure.

The prosecutor said the sisters were "spending more as time passed [and] as they grew bolder and greedier".

Nigella Lawson Ms Grillo said she "would have to disagree" with how Nigella Lawson had described her

Ms Carpenter said it was a feature of the defence that the Grillo sisters were "part of the family [and] were entitled to spend in the same way the family did".

"That, you must appreciate, is utter rubbish and cannot possibly have been the case," she said.

Defence counsel Anthony Metzer QC, for Elisabetta, told the jury that his client was "caught in collateral cross-fire" as Mr Saatchi used the trial to attack his ex-wife and Ms Grillo was "a soft underbelly for attacking Ms Lawson".

"Could it be Mr Saatchi was using this as a way to attack Ms Lawson by proxy?

"As his relationship with Ms Lawson started to unravel and he lost control of her, he looked for a place to put his hurt and anger.

"The extravagant way Ms Lawson kept her family in his money was now a legitimate place for him to exert his feelings," the barrister said.

'No winners'

Mr Metzer added that the TV cook had "carefully honed" her evidence as she was forced to face allegations of "sustained drug use".

And the verdict will "be of significance to Ms Lawson and her public image".

"This is a case with no winners. Not Mr Saatchi, not Ms Lawson and certainly not my client, who is alleged to have breached the trust placed in her by a family she loved and still loves," he added.

The Grillos, of Kensington Gardens Square, Bayswater, west London, each deny a single count of committing fraud by using a company credit card for personal gain between 1 January 2008 and 31 December last year.

The case continues.

More on This Story

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

BBC London

Weather

London

25 °C 15 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    Live cricket 11:42:

    Get ball by ball commentary as Middlessex and Surrey play in the One Day Cup.

     
  2.  
    Tower Hamlets flag-flying 11:34:

    A member of Tower Hamlets council has disputed the mayor's claim that the full council supported a decision to fly the Palestinian flag over the town hall.

    Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman

    Independent mayor Lutfur Rahman (pictured) said the flag was being flown "as a humanitarian gesture of our solidarity with the people of Gaza", but Peter Golds, leader of the local Conservative group, said it was "gesture politics of the worst kind", adding the full council "wasn't behind the decision" because some members abstained.

     
  3.  
    Tower Hamlets flies Palestine flag 11:22:

    The mayor of east London's Tower Hamlets has been criticised for raising the Palestinian flag at the town hall.

    Mayor Lutfur Rahman said the flag was being flown "as a humanitarian gesture of our solidarity with the people of Gaza", after hearing concerns from locals "at the recent escalation of violence in Gaza".

     
  4.  
    West End 'out-performs Broadway' 11:09:

    London's West End is out-performing New York's Broadway, according to research from the National Theatre and the Society of London.

    London's West End

    The first London Theatre Report 2014 found more than 22m people attended performances in the capital last year, with £403m out of £618.5m taken at the box office coming in the West End - 20% more than on Broadway.

     
  5.  
    News on the hour 11:00:

    On BBC London 94.9 at 11.00:

    • Town hall flag: Tower Hamlets mayor criticised for Palestine support
     
  6.  
    Bullying damages awarded 10:55:

    A woman who was bullied and harassed by immigration officers has been awarded £125,000 damages against the government.

    The judge called Radha Patel "wholly blameless" after a family visit to Harrow, north-west London, turned into "a nightmare of unimagined proportions" when she was unlawfully detained.

    She claimed damages for deliberate and malicious ill-treatment when she was interrogated, for the concoction of admissions she was alleged to have made and for her treatment following her detention.

     
  7.  
    Hendon murder appeal 10:45:

    Police are trying to find a man who they want to speak to in connection with the murder of a Lithuanian builder in Hendon earlier this month.

    Four men were charged after Zydrunas Laurinavicius was stabbed by robbers in broad daylight.

     
  8.  
    Millwall wedding for fan 10:37:

    Billy Wiltshire, a lifelong supporter of Millwall FC, became the first groom to to tie the knot at the club's New Den ground, Southwark News reports.

    Millwall FC's New Den stadium

    Mr Wiltshire married Sammy-Jo, who the paper says may have had more wedding-day reservations than most brides: she is an Arsenal fan.

     
  9.  
    A40 reopens 10:28: Paul Murphy-Kasp Journalist, BBC London

    The A40 has just fully re-opened coming into town after it was closed earlier due to an accident.

     
  10.  
    Man dies in fall 10:25:

    A naked man, who fell to his death from a luxury penthouse flat, was left lying on the pavement yards from a busy shopping street for almost four hours covered only by a thin red blanket, reports the Evening Standard.

     
  11.  
    Airport expansion 10:15:

    An independent economic group has called for the future expansion of London airports to take Scotland and other UK regions into consideration.

     
  12.  
    Have your say 10:08:

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

     
  13.  
    News on the hour 09:59:

    On BBC London 94.9 at 10.00:

    • Town hall flag: Tower Hamlets mayor stands by support for Palestine
     
  14.  
    WWI stamps on show at Battersea 09:46:

    A new range of stamps commemorating the First World War are going on display in Battersea Library, reports the Wandsworth Guardian.

    Royal Mail World War I stamp

    The exhibition will run throughout August and will feature enlarged version of stamps due to be issued over the next five years with designs including poppies, famous poetry and a child soldier.

     
  15.  
    Death charge shocks gun police 09:35:

    Mr Chesterman said: "Officers are not above the law and they are accountable for their individual decisions, but carrying a gun on behalf of the state is a big ask and it just got bigger."

    Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders' decision to charge the former marksman comes after a three-month public inquiry into Azelle Rodney's death, chaired by former judge Sir Christopher Holland, found that his killing was not justified.

     
  16.  
    Death charge shocks police 09:26:

    Firearms officers are having second thoughts about their role following a landmark decision to prosecute a former policeman for the shooting of a robbery suspect in north London, a police chief has said.

    The ex-officer, identified only as E7, shot Azelle Rodney in 2005, opening fire within a second of pulling up next to the car the victim was in.

    Deputy Chief Constable Simon Chesterman, the Association of Chief Police Officers' national lead for armed policing, told the Times: "Firearms officers volunteer for the role and many are now considering their future career choices."

     
  17.  
    Footballer assault charge 09:13:

    West Ham footballer Ravel Morrison has been charged with assaulting two women in Salford, police said.

    West Ham footballer Ravel Morrison

    Morrison, 21, of Urmston, is accused of assaulting a 19-year-old woman and a woman aged 39.

     
  18.  
    Russian spy inquest 09:08:

    A public inquiry into the death of a Russian spy who was poisoned as he drank tea at a hotel in Mayfair will be formally opened later.

    Alexander Litvinenko's widow believes he was working for MI6 at the time, and was killed on the orders of the Kremlin.

     
  19.  
    News on the hour 09:00:
  20.  
    Registration D-Day for dot London 08:55:

    It's the final day for Londoners to register for a Dot London web address.

    .London launch

    London-based people and organisations have been given priority to secure the city-specific address over the past three months, with London Zoo, the Royal College of Art, and Cath Kidston signing up.

     
  21.  
    Flying the flag 08:46: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    On Vanessa Feltz's show after 09.00, why is Tower Hamlets council flying the Palestinian flag over its town hall? What are your views?

    And, drink crime offenders will have to wear tags to monitor whether they are still drinking - will it work? Is it going too far?

    Call 020 7224 2000 or text 81333, starting your message with 'London'.

     
  22.  
    Duke's former aide charged 08:35:

    A former aide to the Duke of Edinburgh has been accused of sexually assaulting a girl in the 1970s.

    Benjamin Herman, 79, is charged with three indecent assaults between 1972 and 1974, during which time he served as an equerry to Prince Philip. Mr Herman is due appear before Wimbledon Magistrates' Court on Monday.

     
  23.  
    Ankle tags for booze crimes 08:28:

    Offenders convicted of alcohol-related crimes will have to wear ankle tags to monitor whether they are still drinking, under a new 12-month pilot scheme in Croydon, Lambeth, Southwark and Sutton.

    Up to 150 people are expected to be issued with the tags during the trial which work by recording the levels of alcohol in their sweat.

     
  24.  
    Top headlines
     
  25.  
    Travel 08:19: Paul Murphy-Kasp Journalist, BBC London

    The A3 northbound at Kingston Vale has one lane blocked before the lights at Robin Hood due to a broken down car and in Blackheath, the A2 at Shooters Hill Road, is slow Westbound from Stratheden Road towards Lewisham Road.

    London Underground
     
  26.  
    Travel 08:13: Paul Murphy-Kasp Journalist, BBC London

    The A40 Westway is completely closed between the Northern Roundabout at White City and the A501 Marylebone Road following a collision overnight which is causing queues on the West Cross Route, Holland Park Avenue, and Wood Lane as drivers divert.

    However, traffic can still get onto the Westbound A40 from the Paddington slip.

     
  27.  
    Weather 08:05: Wendy Hurrell BBC Weather, London

    It's a beautiful start to the day across London with temperatures rising nicely.

    It will be another warm afternoon although, the skies will be more cloudy later in the afternoon and this evening one or two places may see a shower. Highs of 25C (77F).

     
  28.  
    08:00: Matthew Bell BBC News, London

    Good morning. I'll be bringing you the latest news, sport, travel and weather for London throughout the day.

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

     

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.