Nigella Lawson's Ex-Assistants Not Guilty of Fraud

NIgella Lawson

The trial of the two sisters accused of defrauding "The Taste" judge and her former husband Charles Saatchi of $1.1 million has been overshadowed by claims of drug use.

LONDON – Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson's two former personal assistants have been cleared of defrauding The Taste judge and her former husband Charles Saatchi.

The trial of Francesca Grillo and her sister Elisabetta, who were accused of the fraudulent spending of $1.1 million (£685,000) from the couple's account, has been overshadowed by revelatory claims that Lawson used cocaine while married to Saatchi.

The sisters had claimed in court that Lawson authorized them to spend the money as she wanted to hide her cocaine use.

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Scotland Yard, otherwise known as London's Metropolitan police, said it would not investigate the drug allegations but will review the decision if new evidence comes to light.

Solicitor Richard Cannon told the BBC that the sisters were "naturally relieved" by the verdict, following a "long, hard fight played out in the gaze of the world's media".

The trial at Isleworth Crown Court included claims that the sisters used credit cards loaned to them by the couple to buy designer goods from Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Vivienne Westwood.

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The sisters said that any purchases had been authorized by the couple.

During the trial, Lawson, a judge on ABC's The Taste, admitted taking cocaine a handful of times with her late husband John Diamond and once during her marriage to Saatchi.

She told the West London court earlier in the trial that she was "not proud" but would rather be "honest and ashamed" about what she had done, according to various media reports.

After the three-week trial, the jury of seven men and five women rejected the prosecution's claims that the purchases on the cards had been unauthorized.

Neither defendant was in court to hear the verdict.