A lawyer in the case against two sisters who worked for Nigella Lawson is slamming allegations that the celebrity chef, 53, used cocaine, cannabis, and prescription pills "daily" for more than a decade. The allegations were brought up in court on Tuesday, Nov. 26, during a case involving Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, who have been charged with defrauding Lawson's ex-husband Charles Saatchi.
"This is a totally scurrilous account which has been raised by the defense, and the timing is no coincidence at all," prosecutor Jane Carpenter says of the claims.
A spokesman for the chef had no comment. However, a source close to Lawson tells Us: "These allegations are totally untrue."
According to the U.K.'s Telegraph, the defense argued in court that the chef had an understanding with the Grillo sisters that they could use Saatchi's company credit card for personal use in exchange for their discretion regarding Lawson's alleged drug use. The women are accused of spending more than 300,000 pounds on designer handbags and other items.
Lawyers for the defendants cited an email from Saatchi to Lawson in which the former wrote: "Now the Grillos will get off on the basis that you were off your head on drugs and you allowed the sisters to spend whatever they liked, and yes, I believe every word the Grillos said."
The judge presiding over the case noted that Saatchi, 70, had clarified his email in a statement, saying, "When I said I believe every word, I was completely astonished by the alleged scale of drug use." He added that there was nothing in his email that said the sisters were "given permission" to use his credit cards in the way alleged.
The judge ruled that defense attorneys will now be allowed to question Lawson about her supposed drug use. The "bad character" application had previously been dismissed at a hearing on Nov. 15.
Per the Telegraph, Elisabetta Grillo's attorney Anthony Metzer told the court he planned to include the "bad character" claims about Lawson in his client's defense. "The defendants will maintain that they were fully aware of [Ms. Lawson's] illicit drug use and she essentially would consent to their expenditure on the understanding that there would be no disclosure to her husband of her usage," the paper quotes him as saying.
The understanding between the sisters and Lawson was not "verbalized," Metzer reportedly said. "There would be an understanding between them that she would be fairly liberal in relation to their substantial expenditure, largely for themselves in addition to expenditure on behalf of the children, in return for a tacit understanding."
The Grillo sisters worked for Lawson for more than 10 years. They were arrested in August 2012 on charges of defrauding Saatchi. He and Lawson split earlier this year after 10 years of marriage; both filed for divorce in July, two months after they were photographed having a very public fight at a London restaurant.