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British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson told a court on Wednesday that her ex-husband Charles Saatchi threatened to “destroy her” and made false allegations about her using cocaine.
Testifying at the trial of two assistants accused of defrauding the couple, Lawson said Saatchi wanted to get revenge on her after she refused to back him over paparazzi pictures that showed him gripping her by the throat.
“He had said to me if I didn't get back to him and clear his name he would destroy me,” Lawson, 53, told Isleworth Crown Court in London.
“I have been put on trial here, where I am called to answer, and glad to answer the allegations, and the world's press, and it comes after a long summer of bullying and abuse.
“I find it's another chapter in that.”
Lawson, who has made a fortune with a series of cookery books and television shows in Britain and the United States, split with Saatchi after 10 years of marriage following the throat-grabbing incident at the upmarket Scott's restaurant in London.
She told the court that after the “awful incident at Scott's” false allegations of drug use began circulating on a “PR blog”.
The allegations on the blog were “dedicated to salvaging Mr Saatchi's reputation and destroying mine”, Lawson said.
An impassive-looking Lawson arrived at the court wearing a black fitted coat and did not speak to waiting reporters. She was accompanied by her lawyer and flanked by seven police officers as she walked inside the building.
Saatchi last week told the court he had no proof that his ex-wife had taken drugs but admitted he had sent an email claiming she was “off her head”.
The email Saatchi wrote to Lawson was read in full to jurors at the trial of the Italian sisters who were personal assistants to the couple.
Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo deny fraudulently spending £685 000 (about R11.6m) on Saatchi's company credit cards.
Saatchi, 70, said he was “utterly bereft” that the private email had been made public.
Saatchi accepted a police caution over the throat-grabbing incident but said he was “disappointed” she had refused to say publicly that he had not abused her. - AFP