Nigella Lawson's courthouse nightmare will soon come to a close.
The celebrity chef has been making headlines in the fraud trial of her former assistants, Francesca Grillo and Elisabetta Grillo, who are charged with allegedly defrauding Lawson and ex-husband Charles Saatchi out of more than £300,000 ($484,600) while under their employment.
The sisters, who worked for Lawson for more than 10 years and deny the accusations, continued their testimony today and opened up further about Lawson's alleged drug use, which has come to light in the case after the Grillos claimed—as part of their defense—that Lawson authorized them to freely use Saatchi's company credit card in exchange for their silence regarding her purported substance abuse.
When prosecutor Jane Carpenter suggested that Francesca Grillo "lied about seeing rolled up notes, saying that they had white powder on them" (in reference to Nigella's alleged cocaine use), Lawson's former PA replied (as reported by the U.K. Mirror) "No, I did not lie. I have no reason to lie—that is just the truth."
She continued, insisting that she cared deeply for both Charles and Nigella and would never intentionally hurt their family.
"They were part of my family. I was very, very, lucky. They loved me, I loved them back," she said. "I still do actually, despite I am defending myself from them, my family, I still have feelings for them."
But Carpenter painted a different picture during her closing argument saying that, "the suggestion that their [the Grillos] expenditure was authorised was utter nonsense."
Karina Arden, defending Francesca Grillo, also told jurors today during her closing speech that "One thing is clear from her [Nigella's] withdrawal statement, that she did not want the issue of drugs to come out." She added that if her client wanted to embellish the extent of the chef's drug use, she could have said she had seen Lawson "snorting coke" off the kitchen table, but she did not.
Arden further told the jury Nigella had a "real reason" to keep her drug use from going public. "She was trying to keep a dark secret, even to the limited scale she admits, trying to stop that dark secret coming out."
And she also questioned the domestic goddess's credibility as a witness.
"The reality of the situation is that Miss Lawson knew about the expenditure," she said. "It is inconceivable that she did not know about the trips abroad, it is inconceivable that Francesca could have 'got away with it,' if in fact it had not been authorised by Miss Lawson."
She added: "If you heard someone come along and admitted having taken Class A or Class B drugs, you would be told that is a matter of bad character. This affects also another aspect of Miss Lawson's credibility and I say, irrespective of her usage of drugs, I ask you to look at her evidence. Not as a famous TV cook but hear it in that way, dare I say it, to anybody who lives on an estate."
Yesterday, during Francesca's testimony, Grillo insinuated that Nigella's alleged drug use was far more widespread than the celebrity chef chose to admit (Nigella confessed to using cocaine only once during her 10-year marriage to Saatchi).
"At the beginning of 2012 there were a few episodes where she [Nigella] came down and she had white powder inside her nostril. A few times I ignored it but other times I told her and she said 'it's just makeup'. It was too white to be makeup," Francesa said (according to the Telegraph). "When she was writing a new book she said she needed to work through the night because she found it easier and she needed help to stay up all night."
Grillo also said after she saw the now-infamous choking photos of Lawson and Saatchi at Scott's restaurant in Mayfair in June, she believed the couple was fighting over Lawson's purported drug use.
"The picture which stuck in my mind was Charles picking her nose. I thought maybe he had the same problem I had, he found some remains inside her nose relating to drugs and I thought maybe if he didn't know that maybe he didn't know that she authorised all the spending."
The jury of seven men and five women has been sent home today and will begin deliberations tomorrow after a short address from the judge.