Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson admitted in a London court Wednesday that she had taken cocaine, but denied being a habitual user, The Associated Press reports. She accused her ex-husband of trying to "destroy" her, during testimony that laid bare a materially affluent but deeply troubled marriage.
Lawson said her former husband Charles Saatchi, a millionaire art collector, spread drug rumors about her after he was photographed gripping her throat outside Scott's restaurant in London. The widely published image ignited harsh criticism of Saatchi and was soon followed by their divorce in July.
"He told everyone that he was taking cocaine out of my nose when he knows that is a lie," Lawson said, testifying at the fraud trial of two former assistants. She said her ex-husband spread "false allegations that I was a habitual user" who snorted cocaine daily.
"I have never been a drug addict," she said.
Lawson, 53, was appearing as a prosecution witness at the trial of Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, who worked as nannies, cleaners and assistants in the couple's London home.
The Grillos -- sisters from Calabria in southern Italy -- are accused of using credit cards loaned to them by Lawson and Saatchi for household expenses to spend more than $1 million on luxury clothes, accessories and rooms at high-end hotels.
The media coverage of the trial has focused more on Lawson and Saatchi's failed marriage and home life than on allegations that two women working for them were living the high life at the couple's unknowing expense.
Lawson said she had taken cocaine half a dozen times with her first husband, John Diamond, while he was dying of cancer. And she took it once again in July 2010 at a time when "I felt subjected to acts of intimate terrorism" by Saatchi.
Giving her version of the notorious restaurant incident for the first time, Lawson said Saatchi grabbed her throat after she saw a baby nearby and remarked that she was looking forward to becoming a grandmother.