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Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson told a London court Wednesday that her ex-husband, British advertising giant and art collector Charles Saatchi, threatened to destroy her with allegations of drug use.
Lawson, appearing for the first time as a witness in a fraud trial against two former personal assistants who worked for the couple, said Saatchi was bent on destroying her after photographs of him apparently choking Lawson during an argument in a London Mayfair restaurant went viral earlier this year.
“He said that if I didn’t go back to him and clear his name, he would destroy me,” Lawson, judge of ABC’s The Taste, told the West London court, according to various media reports of the trial.
Lawson claimed Saatchi spread false allegations that she used drugs. In a email to Lawson that has been made public, Saatchi accused the TV chef of being “drug-addled.” Testifying in court last week, Saatchi called the email a “terrible mistake” and said he has “never, never seen any evidence of Nigella taking any drug whatsoever.”
The court case has become a de facto trial of the celebrity pair’s broken relationship, but the actual charges involve sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, who are accused of the fraudulent spending of $1.1 million (£685,000) from the couple’s account. The sisters deny any wrongdoing.
The allegations that Lawson may have used drugs have become a factor in the case with initial legal arguments suggesting that the women may have used the couple’s credit cards to cover up Lawson’s drug use. Questioned on this point, Saatchi said he did not believe “for a second” that Lawson allowed her assistants to spend freely because she was high.
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