Belfast Telegraph

Grillo praises 'well-loved' Nigella

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's This Morning following their acquittal last month 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 Nigella and her ex-husband Charles Saatchi.

But the Italian sisters claimed every purchase had been approved by their then-bosses and were found not guilty.

"We have won the court case but definitely she had the most support from the public. She is well loved and she will always be loved and I am sure she will be fine," Francesca Grillo, 35, told the programme.

"She is great at what she is doing and I wish her all the best."

The TV cook, whose series The Taste starts tonight (December 7) on Channel 4 appeared on US TV show Good Morning America last week to promote her new show but was also asked about the court case, which saw her face allegations of drug-taking.

Asked what it was like to be a witness in the trial, Nigella told the programme: "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."

She added: "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."

But Nigella continued: "Actually since then I've eaten a lot of chocolate, had a very good Christmas and am into the New Year."

She 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 Charles.

Police are to review her admission that she took the class A drug.

The self-styled "domestic goddess" was appearing on the breakfast show to talk about The Taste, which is also being broadcast in the UK on Channel 4 and has been described as MasterChef meets The Voice.

The sisters said that it was "brave" of the TV cook to admit, during the trial, that she had taken cocaine.

But they said that they did not feel guilty about Nigella giving evidence because their own "freedom was at stake".

Francesca 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 Nigella'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."

Francesca 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."

She said of the case: "It's mortifying for her, it's mortifying for us, it's mortifying for everybody involved."

Elisabetta added: "I feel sorry that we ended up in that situation, that she did admit to that. But no, not guilty, because it was nothing to do with me, it's her life."


From Belfast Telegraph