LONDON (AP) — Television cook and author Nigella Lawson on Thursday accused lawyers for two former assistants of treating her like a suspect rather than a witness, as she again denied allegations of heavy drug use.
"If you want to put me on trial, put me on trial," Lawson said as she testified for a second day at the fraud trial of her two ex-employees. "I don't feel it is right to have me here as a witness for the Crown and treat me like this."
On Wednesday, Lawson acknowledged taking cocaine a handful of times but denied being a regular drug user. She was pressed on the subject again Thursday under cross-examination by a defense lawyer, who asked whether she had kept cocaine in a hollowed-out book containing jewelry including her late first husband's wedding ring.
Lawson denied it.
"If I was taking cocaine and cannabis to the extent you say, I wouldn't be standing here," she said.
"If you think I'm going to sabotage my health and leave my children as orphans, you are very wrong," said Lawson, who has a son and a daughter from her marriage to John Diamond, who died of cancer in 2001.
"I promise you ... regular cocaine users do not look like this," added the cook, known for her voluptuous figure. "They are scrawny and look unhealthy."
Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, sisters from Italy, are charged with using credit cards loaned to them by Lawson and her ex-husband Charles Saatchi to spend 685,000 pounds (more than $1 million) on luxury clothes, accessories and rooms at high-end hotels. They deny the fraud charges.
The case has been overshadowed by revelations about the troubled relationship between art collector Saatchi and Lawson, author of "How to Be A Domestic Goddess" and host of foodie TV shows including "Nigella Bites" and U.S. network ABC's cooking program "The Taste."
The couple divorced in July after Saatchi was photographed grabbing Lawson's throat outside a London restaurant.
Saatchi has said the pair were arguing about Lawson's drug use. But she alleged Wednesday that Saatchi grabbed her throat after she saw a baby nearby and remarked that she was looking forward to becoming a grandmother eventually.