Saatchi grabbed my throat when I cooed over baby, says Nigella
CELEBRITY chef Nigella Lawson spoke on Wednesday for the first time about the infamous throat-grabbing incident which exposed her marital woes to widespread attention.
She also acknowledged in court that she had taken cocaine and other drugs from time to time. But Lawson said she was not the kind of habitual user that her former husband, advertising executive Charles Saatchi, had described her to be in a private e-mail message.
In court, the 53-year-old Lawson admitted under oath to illegal drug use, but insisted that Mr Saatchi, who made millions in advertising and fancies himself an art collector, was trying to destroy her by spreading rumours after he was photographed squeezing her nose and gripping her by the throat at a London restaurant.
She said that Mr Saatchi, 70, had subjected her to "intimate terrorism". The two divorced in July, soon after the photographs were published.
She said the fight was not about drugs, but took place after someone walked by with a baby in a stroller and she cooed that she looked forward to having grandchildren.
"He grabbed me by the throat and said 'I'm the only person you should be concerned with. I am the only person who should be giving you pleasure'," she testified.
Her testimony came in the fraud trial of the couple's personal assistants, two Italian sisters, who charged thousands of dollars in personal purchases to Mr Saatchi's credit cards. The women, Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, deny the charges.
Their defence lawyers have said that the sisters were given free rein to spend as much as they liked, in a deal with Lawson to remain silent about her drug use.
Mr Saatchi, who called Lawson "Higella" in the e-mail message revealed in court, had testified that he regretted sending it and that he had never seen Lawson use drugs.
Lawson - who married Mr Saatchi 10 years ago after her first husband, John Diamond, died of cancer in 2001 - testified that she first took cocaine with Diamond when he was terminally ill. She took cocaine again in 2010, when she was having "a very, very difficult time", she said.
She described her marriage to Mr Saatchi as a kind of hell.
She added: "I have to say, since freeing myself from a brilliant but brutal man, I'm now totally cannabis, cocaine, any drug-free. I don't have a drug problem. I have a life problem."