December 4th, 2013
10:15 AM ET

Ex-Husband Saatchi Threatened To Destroy Me, Chef Nigella Lawson Tells Court

Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson told a London court Wednesday that ex-husband Charles Saatchi had threatened to "destroy" her, as she testified in the trial of two former personal assistants accused of fraud.

The former aides, Italian sisters Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, deny embezzling hundreds of thousands of pounds on company credit cards while employed by Lawson and Saatchi.

Lawson's comment about her ex-husband came as she was asked about her reluctance to attend court as a witness in the assistants' trial - a case that has gripped the media as claims emerge about the couple's troubled personal life.

"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 said. "I find it's another chapter in that."

Referring to Saatchi's request for her to attend the trial, made in a letter sent by his lawyers, she said: "He had said to me if I didn't get back to him and clear his name he would destroy me."

Lawson said she felt she had to do her civic duty. "It's difficult for me, it's very difficult for my children, but I want to do the right thing," she added.

The sisters were supposed to use the cards for household expenses, but allegedly spent large amounts on themselves.

Lawson acknowledged she wasn't familiar with every detail of the purchases made by the Grillo sisters.

She told the court she had employed Elisabetta, known as Lisa, while her ex-husband had hired Francesca. Both worked for the family for a number of years.

"I loved Lisa. She came to me in a difficult time in my life. She was a rock," Lawson said.

She said Elisabetta Grillo had left her job for a while, and when she came back she'd been increasingly bitter and unhappy.

"I do not think her bitterness was towards me personally. I think it was towards her life," the chef said.

Lawson ignored the crowd of reporters and photographers waiting outside Isleworth Crown Court as she entered earlier, wearing black and looking somber.

SEE HLN's JOEY JACKSON WEIGH IN ON THE CASE:

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