Nigella Lawson 'disturbed' by court process

Nigella Lawson leaves court after giving evidence
Image caption Nigella Lawson: "I am disappointed but unsurprised by this verdict"

TV chef Nigella Lawson has criticised the judicial system after her former personal assistants were found not guilty of defrauding her and her ex husband, Charles Saatchi.

Here is her statement in full:

"I am disappointed but unsurprised by this verdict.

"Over the three week trial the jury was faced with a ridiculous sideshow of false allegations about drug use which made focus on the actual criminal trial impossible.

"My experience as a witness was deeply disturbing.

"When false claims about habitual drug use were introduced I did everything possible to ensure the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) was aware of the sustained background campaign deliberately designed to destroy my reputation.

"During the trial not one witness claimed to see me take drugs and not one of my three assistants was asked about these claims by the defence, despite being cross-examined at length.

'Cannot forgive'

"I did my civic duty, only to be maliciously vilified without the right to respond.

Image caption Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo were found not guilty at Isleworth Crown Court

"I can only hope that my experience will highlight the need for a reform that will give witnesses some rights to rebut false claims made against them.

"Even more harrowing was seeing my children subjected to extreme allegations in court without any real protection or representation.

"For this I cannot forgive the court process.

"When I gave evidence I spoke of my regret at having to talk about the circumstances of the end of my marriage and also voiced concern about a campaign to circulate false allegations carried out over the course of this summer, then circulated as witness statements from the Grillos by a publicist, and eventually added to the defence of this prosecution in November.

"That concern remains.

"While this has been a difficult and upsetting time for both me and my family I would like to thank my friends, family and all those who have expressed support throughout this ordeal."

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