Lawson's assistants accused of fraud in London court case
LONDON — ABC has said it has no plans to cancel cooking show “The Taste,” despite allegations of substantial drug use made against one of the show’s stars, Nigella Lawson, in a London court on Tuesday.
A second season of the U.S. show, in which Lawson acts as a judge alongside chefs Anthony Bourdain and Ludo Lefebvre, is due to air in January. “We have already wrapped production on ‘The Taste’ and it will air as planned beginning January 2nd,” ABC told the Guardian newspaper.
Lawson is due to appear as a witness in the trial of sisters Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, who are accused of committing fraud while working as personal assistants to Lawson and her former husband Charles Saatchi.
The prosecution claims the sisters fraudulently used company credit cards to spend up to £300,000 ($486,000) on luxury goods and air travel. The sisters’ defense is that they claim to have had a “tacit understanding” with Lawson that they could keep spending, as long as they did not tell her husband about her alleged use of drugs.
On Tuesday, the trial judge, Robin Johnson, said: “The defense asserts that Miss Lawson habitually took cocaine and did so on a daily basis — in addition to her abuse of prescription drugs — throughout the defendants’ time in the household.”
An email from Saatchi to Lawson, which was written in the run-up to the case, was read out in court: “Of course now the Grillos will get off on the basis that you (and your daughter) were so off your heads on drugs that you allowed the sisters to spend whatever they liked and yes I believe every word they have said.”
The prosecution refutes the allegations. Prosecutor Jane Carpenter said: “These are totally scurrilous allegations that have been forwarded by the defense. I would say the timing of this is no surprise at all.
“The defendants were arrested on August 2 (2012) and the supplementary statement was not made until September of this year,” she added.
“By this time the defendants had already admitted their responsibility to the allegations — not least in a letter the sisters sent to Ms Lawson and Mr Saatchi.”