The Toppling Of Charles Saatchi: His Last Tango With Nigella
Last week saw the end of one of the most bizarre trials to ever hit a British court room, the trial of the Iraqi born, art dealer Charles Saatchi and super chef Nigella Lawson vs the Grillos sisters. If you have been hibernating and haven't been following, I'll do a quick summation. The Grillos were both personal assistants to Lawson and house keepers at the family's £25m art infested Belgravia home. They were both given a credit card, which went unmonitored over several years. It then transpired that £685,000 of unauthorised purchases had been made by the pair, which included gifts for themselves from Prada, Chanel and Miu Miu, first class air fare and luxury spa breaks. This amount was later reduced to a mere £111,000, and £38,000, collectively made by the two assistants.
The women did their best in the court room with antics including fainting and numerous panic attacks to garner sympathy. Most worrying was the way their lawyers Karina Arden, and Anthony Metzer QC, changed the goal posts from a standard fraud trial to a personal assault on the victims of the crime, the Saatchis themselves. The defence stated that because of the use of cocaine and cannabis, the Lawson home was a household out of control. The sisters alleged that in order to keep Nigella's drugs a secret from her husband, the TV chef had allowed the ladies to personally spend what ever they liked, on the cards. This is something Nigella has firmly denied. The Grillos were presented by the defence as, women "caught in the collateral crossfire" of a disintegrating relationship and had been "devoured like lambs" in a bitter battle between the now-divorced couple".
The case also highlighted her recent, messy divorce from Saatchi who has seen his public persona turn from respected hard nosed adman/art dealer to a wife choking, nostril picking control freak. Lawson has seen her reputation go from bubbly, kitchen goddess to a Formica faced, drug crazed super vixen. Lawson told police before the trial that Saatchi had "used his best endeavours to encourage press and media to publish "untrue stories about me". She also stated that her former husband had threatened to "destroy" her if she did not give evidence in this case. He had told her in an email, addressed to 'Higella', that he believed the Grillos' claims that she was "off her head on drugs" – but later, when giving evidence, he said he no longer believed this was the case and was "bereft" that the email had emerged in public. Nice timing Charles! Some of the more interesting tidbits to come out in the trial included how Mr Saatchi instructed the Grillos to go out to bookshops in different parts of London to purchase books written by the art dealer in order to push the titles up the bestseller list. It was also revealed that household spending topped £1.2m a year.
A not guilty verdict was handed down by a jury of seven men and five women on Friday after eight hours and 52 minutes of deliberation dragged more reputations through the slurry pit than any other I can recall. With the end of the trial, this story is far from over over! Watch out, as Lawson's team is understood to be concerned that Saatchi may still pursue her with a civil claim for the £1m lost. This also sends out a great message about future cases of blackmail and fraud! I blame the defence lawyers! I'm sure they're having a very happy Xmas!!!