British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson told a court today she was "honest and ashamed" about her past drug use after admitting she had taken cocaine and cannabis.
Lawson, whose private life has been splashed across the front pages of newspapers this week during the fraud trial of her two former assistants, said she had been "bullied with lies" by her ex-husband Charles Saatchi, the multi-millionaire art collector, over the extent of her drug use.
"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," the self-styled 'Domestic Goddess', 53, told Isleworth Crown Court in London.
The trial of the couple's former assistants, Italian sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, previously heard that Saatchi accused Lawson of being so "off her head" on drugs that the Grillos were able to go on massive spending sprees with his company credit cards. Lawson admitted in court on Wednesday that she had taken cocaine at two periods in her life, but said she had been drug-free since leaving the "brilliant but brutal" Saatchi, 70.
The Grillo sisters deny fraudulently spending 685,000 pounds ($1.1 million) on designer clothes and handbags, first-class flights and taxi journeys. Lawson and Saatchi ended their 10-year marriage this year after paparazzi pictures showed him gripping her by the throat at a London restaurant. Lawson, the daughter of former finance minister Nigel Lawson, said she objected to a claim "peddled" by Saatchi that the pictures showed him checking up her nose for cocaine.
"Mr Saatchi was not examining me for cocaine. That's a story he made up afterwards to clear his name," she told the court. Lawson, who has made millions of pounds with her TV series and cookbooks, said she had taken cocaine with her first husband John Diamond just before he died of cancer in 2001.
The second time was in 2010 when she was having a "very, very difficult time" in her marriage to Saatchi, she told the jury.
She had also "smoked the odd joint" of cannabis to cope with the stress. Lawson said that the idea that she is a "drug addict or habitual user of cocaine is absolutely ridiculous". "The fact is, I would rather be honest and ashamed," she said. "I wasn't going to be bullied with lies."