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Published: Thursday December 5, 2013 MYT 9:05:00 AM
Updated: Thursday December 5, 2013 MYT 9:11:14 AM

Nigella Lawson admits using cocaine, cannabis

Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson arrives at Isleworth Crown Court London, Britain, Dec 4, 2013 to give evidence in the trial of two of her former assistants who face charges of fraud.

Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson arrives at Isleworth Crown Court London, Britain, Dec 4, 2013 to give evidence in the trial of two of her former assistants who face charges of fraud.

LONDON (AFP) - British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson on Wednesday admitted occasionally using cocaine and cannabis but dismissed claims she was a drug addict as an attempt by her ex-husband Charles Saatchi to "destroy" her.

Speaking at the fraud trial of two ex-aides, Lawson said she took cocaine when her first husband John Diamond was dying and again in 2010 when she was being subjected to "intimate terrorism" by multi-millionaire art dealer Saatchi.

Italian sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, who used to work as personal assistants to the celebrity couple, each deny fraudulently spending £685,000 (S$1.4 million) on Saatchi's company credit cards.

"There are two times in my life when I have used cocaine. The idea that I am a drug addict or habitual user of cocaine is absolutely ridiculous," Lawson, 53, told Isleworth Crown Court in London.

"I have to say, since freeing myself from a brilliant but brutal man, I'm now totally cannabis, cocaine, any drug-free." The allegations of drug-taking emerged at the start of the trial in an email written by Saatchi, 70.

The self-styled "domestic goddess" said she used cocaine with Diamond, her first husband and father of her two children, on six occasions because "it gave him some escape" when he was suffering from terminal cancer.

The second time was in 2010 when a friend gave her the drug as Lawson was having a "very, very difficult time".

"I felt subjected to intimate terrorism by Mr Saatchi," she said.

Lawson said she also took cannabis in the last year of her marriage to Saatchi.

"I have to be honest, I have smoked the odd joint. I found it made an intolerable situation tolerable," she told the court.

Earlier, Lawson said Saatchi wanted revenge after she refused to back him over paparazzi pictures that showed him gripping her by the throat at a London restaurant earlier this year.

"He had said to me if I didn't get back to him and clear his name he would destroy me," Lawson said.

"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."

Lawson, who has made a fortune with a series of cookery books and television shows in Britain and the United States, split with Saatchi this year after 10 years of marriage following the throat-grabbing incident at the upmarket Scott's restaurant in London.

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