Celebrity cook Nigella Lawson has told a court she has taken cocaine several times, including being the victim of “intimate terror” by her millionaire ex-husband Charles Sachs, the latest dramatic twist in a trial that has engulfed Britain.
Lawson, a well-known TV star and writer from Britain and the United States, told the court on Wednesday that she had occasionally smoked marijuana in the last year of her marriage to art dealer Sachi but had “never been addicted or abusive”.
“I don’t have a drug problem, I have a life problem,” Lawson said, nicknamed “Domestic Goddess” after the title of one of her best-selling recipe books.
The 53-year-old was testifying at the trial of two of his personal aides who were accused of fraudulently embezzling 68 685,000 ($ 1.12 million) in a credit card from Sachi’s company.
Last week the assistant defense counsel said there was a clear understanding that they could spend whatever they liked until Lawson was told about his drug use. They deny allegations of fraud. The court further heard that Sachi wrote an email to Lawson where he accused her of taking the drug “out of his head”.
Lawson said Wednesday that she had taken cocaine six times with her first husband, journalist John Diamond, since she died in 2001 of throat cancer.
“It was a small amount but it saved him a bit,” said the chef, who played a consultant and judge on Walt Disney Co’s ABC network’s New Year’s US TV cooking contest “The Test.”
He said he also used the drug in July 2010. “I had a very, very difficult time,” Lawson said. “I feel very close to Mr. Sachchi,” he said.
“I would say with some embarrassment that I (besides) smoked the weird joint (with Sachchi) in the last year of my marriage. I am completely drug free now, ”he added.
Lawson and Sacchi, 70, tied the knot in July of their 10-year marriage and received police warnings a month ago after newspapers published pictures of him with his ex-wife’s hand on his neck at a restaurant in London.
The fraud case has revealed a bitter row between them, once one of Britain’s most famous couples. Interest in the lawsuit has also grown because of the aides’ extraordinary purchases on credit cards and drug allegations against Lawson.
Beside police officers, Lawson arrived at the Isleworth Crown Court in west London on Wednesday at a barrage of flashlights and TV arc lights amid a flurry of media crews around the world.
Earlier in court, he accused Sachchi of threatening to destroy him on false drug charges. He said he was reluctant to give evidence because of such allegations, which he said were followed by a “long summer threat” from Sachchi.
“I felt it would not be a fraud case and I would face trial and that is what happened,” he said. “However, I am happy to respond to the allegations here and to the world’s media,” he added.
Lawson told the jury that after the “horrific incident” at the restaurant in June, false allegations of his drug use began to promote him as a PR blog.
These allegations, he said, were “dedicated to protecting Mr. Sachi’s reputation and destroying me.”
He told the court that his reluctance to testify at the trial angered Sachi. “He told me if I didn’t go back to him and clear his name, he would destroy me,” he adds.
The court heard earlier that Sachi had written him an email in October in which he said that two assistants to the trial, Italian sisters Elizabeth and Francesca Grillo, would be able to defeat the fraud charge because of his drug use.
“I can laugh at your sorry inferiority,” he said in an email read to the court. “Of course now the grills will be closed on the grounds that you were so close to your head with that drug that you let the sisters spend as much as they wanted.”
But Sachchi told the court last week that he had no evidence that his ex-wife had ever used drugs. “Are you asking me if I think Nigella was really out of her head? Not even for a second,” he said.
Francesca Grillo, 35, spent an average of ৮ 47,000 a month and Elizabeth, 41, চার 28,000 in four months until June 2012 alone, the prosecution told the court.
At various times over the four years, the court heard, the sisters spent enormously on flights to New York, hotel stays, designer handbags and clothes.
Lawson told the court that Elizabeth was a staunch supporter who helped him through Diamond’s death. He said the allegation of forgery “broke our hearts” when it was revealed to him and Sachi.
The trial continues.