Nigella: ‘I’d rather be honest and ashamed [than] bullied with lies’

Nigella Lawson has told a court she would rather be ‘honest and ashamed’ than ‘bullied with lies’ after revealing details of her past drug use.

The TV cook said she was ‘not proud’ after admitting she has taken cocaine and cannabis, but denied her admission was ‘damage limitation’.

“I’m not proud of the fact I have taken drugs, but that does not make me a drug addict or a habitual drug user,” she said.

Nigella said she objected to stories ‘peddled’ by her ex-husband Charles Saatchi, including that he was checking her nose for cocaine when he was photographed gripping her throat outside Scott’s restaurant in central London.

“The fact is, I would rather be honest and ashamed… I wasn’t going to be bullied with lies,” she said.

“Mr Saatchi was not examining me for cocaine. That’s a story he made up afterwards to clear his name.”

Nigella was continuing her evidence in the fraud trial of two of her former personal assistants.

Wearing an all-black outfit, she was greeted by a huge pack of photographers, reporters and cameramen as she arrived for a second day at Isleworth Crown Court in west London.

Jurors were previously read an email sent to Nigella from Charles in which he said the defendants would ‘get off’ on the basis that she was ‘so off her head’ on drugs she allowed them to ‘spend whatever they liked’.

Yesterday she denied being a drug addict and spoke of the ‘intimate terrorism’ she suffered at the hands of her ex.

She said she first took the class-A drug with her late husband John Diamond when he found out he had terminal cancer, and on another occasion later during her troubled marriage to Charles.

But the 53-year-old, who also admitted to smoking cannabis, said the idea that she is a ‘drug addict or habitual user of cocaine is absolutely ridiculous’.

“I did not have a drug problem, I had a life problem,” she said.

Francesca Grillo, 35, and her sister Elisabetta, sometimes referred to as Lisa, 41, are accused of committing fraud by abusing their positions by using a company credit card for personal gain.

Prosecutors claim the Italian sisters lived the ‘high life’, spending the money on designer clothes and handbags from Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Vivienne Westwood.

The pair are accused of using credit cards loaned to them by the TV cook and her ex-husband to spend more than £685,000 on themselves between 2008 and 2012.

The Grillo sisters, of Kensington Gardens Square, Bayswater, west London, deny the charge against them.

Under cross-examination by defence barrister Karina Arden, representing Francesca, Nigella denied using her evidence to explain herself in front of ‘the world’s press’.

“I felt it was my duty to come,” she said. “I certainly felt it would be an unpleasant experience but that’s not a good enough reason not to do one’s duty.

“I prefer to keep my private life private.”

Nigella denied lying to police when she disputed the drug allegations against her and said it was the ‘extent’ of her drug use that was untrue.

“It was not true in that my ex-husband was saying that he was getting cocaine out of my nose at Scott’s and that I had been completely off my head for 10 years,” she said.

“I actually did say at the time it was the extent that was not true.”

She told the court her first use of cocaine with John Diamond was in 1999.