Entertainment & Arts

Grillo pair wish Nigella 'the best'

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Media captionFrancesca Grillo said Nigella Lawson "had the most support from the public"

Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, who were found not guilty of defrauding Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi, say they wish Lawson "all the best".

"She is well loved and she will always be loved. I am sure she will be fine," Francesca told ITV's This Morning.

She added Lawson was "very brave" to admit to her cocaine use in court, adding: "Good for her for doing so."

But the pair, Lawson's former personal assistants, said their friendship with the TV cook was probably irreparable.

Image caption The sisters were cleared of fraud on 20 December last year

The Italian sisters had worked for Lawson for 14 years prior to the fraud accusations - Elisabetta said it "was like family" and Lawson was "very, very welcoming".

Asked how they felt after being accused of fraudulently using credit cards to the tune of £685,000, 35-year-old Francesca told This Morning she was "surprised".

It was as if "you wake up one morning and your mother says, 'I'm not your mother any more'," she continued. "It was a shock."

"I don't know how to explain it," she said. "I had a credit card through all my years with them and it was never a problem."

"There were no ground rules."


The sisters began working for Lawson when she was married to her first husband John Diamond, who died of cancer in 2001.

Francesca said things changed when Lawson re-married in 2003 to art collector Saatchi.

"Our relationship with her (was) still close," she said. "John and Charles were two different people."

Francesca reiterated that the sisters were given credit cards and told to "use it for everything and that's it."

Asked by This Morning presenter Philip Schofield why they sent an email to Lawson asking for forgiveness, Francesca Grillo explained: "That is not an apology like we did something wrong. It was more, if I disappointed you… let's open a conversation."

The sisters said the accusation, arrest and subsequent trial had taken a toll on all parties.

"There are no winners in this situation," said Elisabetta, known as Lisa. "All of us lost something."

Image caption Lawson gave evidence at the trial last month

Francesca added that hearing Lawson's private life dissected in court "was tough - but it was more tough to sit down in the dock thinking I might be in prison for a long time".

She said Elisabetta had suffered a "very bad panic attack", the night before the verdict was due and had to go to hospital.

Her sister continued to have panic attacks going into court the following day and while waiting for the verdict.

Francesca acknowledged that while the case undoubtedly affected their former boss, "this case hasn't only really affected me and her but also our family. It has been a burden for all involved."

'Broken mirror'

Since the trial, Lawson has said that having "distortions" of her private life "put on display" in court was "mortifying".

Speaking on US TV show Good Morning America, the 53-year-old said she had been "maliciously vilified without the right to respond".

Image caption Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi divorced in July, after ten years of marriage

The TV cook was depicted as a habitual user of cocaine during the three-week trial. She admitted to taking cocaine several times, most recently in 2010, and smoking cannabis - but denied being an addict.

Elisabetta said it was "a pity" that the trial had brought the information to light, but she did not feel responsible for the revelations.

"I feel sorry that we ended up in that situation, that she did admit to that. But no, not guilty, because it was nothing to do with me, it's her life."

Francesca added: "We were in court not because of her drug use or because we wanted her to be punished. In admitting it, I think she was very brave to do so, good for her for doing so. But I didn't feel guilty."

"I think as we (have) seen, maybe we won the court case but she had the most support from the public. I'm sure she will be fine. She's great at what she does and I wish her all the best."

As for any future reconciliation, she said: "It's like a broken mirror, you can glue it back together but you can see all the cracks."

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