Nigella Lawson‘s former personal assistants have said they may have won their legal battle but the celebrity chef has won the hearts of the British public.
Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo spoke to ITV This Morning following their acquittal in December on charges of fraudulently using company credit cards, spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on designer goods for themselves, while working as personal assistants to Lawson and her ex-husband Charles Saatchi.
The sisters claimed every purchase had been approved by their then bosses, and they were found not guilty by jurors at Isleworth crown court in west London.
“We have won the court case but definitely she had the most support from the public. She [Lawson] is well loved and she will always be loved and I am sure she will be fine,” Francesca Grillo, 35, told the programme on Tuesday. “She is great at what she is doing and I wish her all the best.”
Lawson, whose series The Taste starts on Tuesday evening on Channel 4, said last week that her only desire during the trial had been to protect her children but that she was unable to always do so.
The mother-of-two appeared on the US TV show Good Morning America to promote her new show and was asked about the court case in which allegations of drug-taking arose.
Asked what it was like to be a witness in the trial, Lawson said: “I can’t really remember exactly because you’re so focused on answering the questions to the best of your ability that actually you don’t really have an enormous awareness of yourself.
“Maybe that’s a good thing. My only desire really was to protect my children as much as possible which … alas I couldn’t always do.”
Lawson added that having details of her acrimonious split from the art dealer Saatchi talked about in court under the glare of the world’s media was mortifying.
Nigella Lawson tells Good Morning America she felt herself to be on trial. She was not asked about the drug claims made against her in court. Photograph: Barcroft USA”To have not only your private life but distortions of your private life put on display is mortifying, but there are people going through an awful lot worse and to dwell on any of it would be self-pity and I don’t like to do that,” she said.
She said she was looking towards the future. “Since then I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate, had a very good Christmas and am into the new year.”
Lawson admitted during the trial that she took cocaine with her late husband John Diamond when he found out he had terminal cancer, and in 2010 when she claimed she was being “subjected to intimate terrorism” by Saatchi. Police are to review her admission that she took the
The Grillos said on Tuesday it was brave of their former employer to admit during the trial that she had taken cocaine. The sisters said they did not feel guilty about Lawson giving evidence because their own “freedom was at stake”.
Francesca Grillo said: “It was tough but it was more tough to sit down in a dock and think, I might be in prison for a long time.”
She said of Lawson’s family affairs being aired publicly: “I felt sorry for all of us involved. We shouldn’t have reached that. But unfortunately you are in a position where your freedom is at stake so you have to tell your side of the story … I wish it didn’t happen, but I had to think about my freedom.”
She added: “We were in court not because of her drug use or because we wanted her to be punished. In admitting it, I think she was very brave to do so … but I didn’t feel guilty.
“It’s mortifying for her, it’s mortifying for us, it’s mortifying for everybody involved.”
Elisabetta said: “I feel sorry that we ended up in that situation, that she [Lawson] did admit to that. But no, not guilty, because it was nothing to do with me, it’s her life.”
Francesca said of being accused: “It’s like you wake up one morning and your mother says, ‘I’m not your mother any more, sorry. You’ve been with me all your life, but I don’t know you any more.'”
Elisabetta added: “There are no winners in this situation. All of us lost something.”
Francesca said it was too early for a reconciliation with Lawson. “It’s like a broken mirror – you can glue it back together but you see all the cracks.”
She said that when she was told of the jury’s verdict, her sister had a panic attack. “At that point I just wanted my sister to be well. I wasn’t very worried about the verdict.”