Saatchi 'bereft' over 'drugs' email
Charles Saatchi has told a court he was "utterly bereft" that a private email he sent to ex-wife Nigella Lawson referring to her being off her head on drugs has been made public.
The email he wrote to the TV chef was read in full to jurors but, when asked if he believed allegations that Miss Lawson was a habitual cocaine user, the art dealer said: "I do not know."
"If you ask me whether I actually knew whether Nigella ever took drugs, the answer is no," Mr Saatchi added as he gave evidence at Isleworth Crown Court in west London, where his two former personal assistants are on trial accused of fraud.
Italian sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo are accused of using credit cards loaned to them by the celebrity couple to spend more than £685,000 on themselves.
Mr Saatchi listened as the email he sent to Miss Lawson on October 10 was read out to jurors at Isleworth Crown Court in west London.
In it he referred to his ex-wife as 'Higella' at one point.
He wrote: "Nigella, I was sent these by a newspaper and I can only laugh at your sorry depravity.
"Of course now the Grillos will get off on the basis that you ... were so off your heads on drugs that you allowed the sisters to spend whatever they liked and yes I believe every word the Grillos have said, who after all only stole money."
The email went on: "But I'm sure it was all great fun and now everything is perfect - bravo, you have become a celebrity hostess on a global TV game show. And you got the Pass you desired, free to heartily enjoy all the drugs you want, forever. Classy."
Questioned about the email by prosecutor Jane Carpenter, Mr Saatchi said: "I'm utterly bereft that this private email to Nigella has come back to haunt us both. That's all I have to say.
"The stories that the Grillos were parading was that Nigella had a severe cocaine habit that stretched back a very long time for the entirety of our marriage.
"What I was speculating here was that the Grillos would use this as a defence."
Mr Saatchi said Miss Lawson was "very cross" with him when he told her he had confronted their personal assistants about their alleged misuse of his company credit card.
The multi-millionaire, who went through a high-profile divorce from the food writer earlier this year, said he thought the Grillo sisters had been "naughty" but he wanted to put the matter behind them while Miss Lawson wanted to call the police.
Mr Saatchi said he told the pair that they could pay the money they owed off and live rent-free in a house in Battersea, central London, that Lawson used for filming but his then-wife did not agree.
He told the court: "She then said 'You have to hand this matter straight over to the police'."
It is alleged that the Grillo sisters lived the "high life", spending the money on designer clothes and handbags from Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Vivienne Westwood.
Asked to explain what he meant in the email he sent to Miss Lawson, Mr Saatchi said: "I was very upset. I wasn't laughing, I was broken-hearted."
He said it was a "terrible, terrible mistake" on behalf of their lawyers that it had been seen more widely.
Questioned about the drug-taking allegations, Mr Saatchi told the court: "It was hearsay. I personally have absolutely no knowledge that Nigella has ever taken a drug ever.
"I don't like drugs at all and I didn't like reading what the Grillos said was the culture in my house."
Under intense questioning, Mr Saatchi said he refuted the suggestion that his former wife's mind was so "addled" by drugs that she was not aware what she had or had not permitted the sisters to buy.
"Are you asking me whether I think that Nigella truly was off her head?" he asked.
"Not for a second. Over this whole period she was writing books very successfully and appearing on television shows very successfully."
Recalling when the matter of the sisters' alleged spending first came to his attention, Mr Saatchi said: "I rather foolishly thought I would overlook it as them getting carried away and being naughty."
He added: "It gives me great pain to see them in this situation."
Mr Saatchi denied that he told Francesca Grillo he would "hunt her and destroy her", or that he banged on a table during a discussion about the expenditure.
The case was adjourned until December 4 when Miss Lawson is expected to appear as a witness.