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Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson stood before a UK courtroom on Wednesday and admitted she used cocaine a handful of times.
But the 53 year old denies habitually using illegal drugs and accused her ex-husband Charles Saatchi for spreading false information in hopes of hurting her reputation.
Nigella divorced Charles, 70, a wealthy British businessman, after pictures surfaced of the advertising mogul placing his hand around her neck while the pair dined at Scott’s, a London seafood restaurant, in June.
“He told everyone that he was taking cocaine out of my nose at Scott’s when he knows that is a lie,” Nigella said, testifying at a trial of two former assistants, Italian-born sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, who are accused of fraudulently using her and Charles’ credit cards. The women claim Nigella is a habitual cocaine user and that she allowed them to use the cards in exchange for keeping her drug habit a secret.
Nigella said she believed Charles was on a campaign to “ruin me in any way.”
“I think he likes everyone to do what he wants,” she said. When jurors read an email to the TV personality from her former husband claiming she took drugs, she responded it was “part of his plan of attack.”
Nigella said she did cocaine half a dozen times with her first husband, John Diamond, with whom she has two children, after he found out he was dying from cancer. “It gave him some escape,” she said. John passed away in 2001.
She took it once again in 2010 because she felt “subjected to intimate terrorism” and “isolated and in fear of… just unhappy” during that time in her marriage to Charles. “A friend of mine offered me some cocaine, I took it,” she said and added that it “completely spooked” her.
The How to be a Domestic Goddess author also admitted she began smoking cannabis in the last year of that marriage.
“I found it made an intolerable situation tolerable. It’s a false friend and not a good idea,” she said. “I have to say, since freeing myself from a brilliant but brutal man, I’m not totally cannabis, cocaine, any drug-free.”
As for the two women alleging Nigella is heavily into drugs, she’s hurt by the claims.
“I loved [Elisabetta]. My children loved Lisa,” said Nigella, who called her former assistant “a rock” after John died. “It’s very difficult when you find out that someone you have loved and trusted could behave in that way. In my heart of hearts I do not believe Lisa to be a bad person. But I believe her to have not a very strong moral compass.”
She’s set to return to court on Thursday.