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LONDON — The British press has never been shy about toppling celebrities from their lofty pedestals, so it’s no wonder the popular, successful, self-styled domestic goddess Nigella Lawson, whose alleged serial use of cocaine emerged earlier this week, has dominated the front pages of broadsheets and tabloids alike.
On Wednesday, the day after the allegations were made public, the Daily Mail’s front-page headline read “Nigella’s Decade of Cocaine,” while the Daily Mirror cried: “Off her head on cocaine every day for a decade.” Even The Times, a far higher-brow publication, ran a large picture of Lawson, with the headline: “Nigella ‘off her head on drugs,’ says Saatchi.”
The scandal hit when e-mails between Lawson and her ex-husband, multimillionaire art collector Charles Saatchi, were made public in a pre-trial hearing for a criminal case for fraud brought against the couple’s two former personal assistants.
In those missives, which were submitted as evidence at London's Isleworth Crown Court, Saatchi accused the television chef of being “off your [head] on drugs.” According to court documents, Saatchi had also dubbed her “Higella” and accused her of using drugs with her teenage daughter Cosima.
Saatchi’s email said the assistants, Italian sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, would certainly escape prosecution for allegedly spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on designer goods and other luxuries for their personal use, because Lawson had “allowed” the spending while under the influence of drugs, according to press reports.
The sisters’ defense attorney, Anthony Metzer, is arguing that Lawson was not only aware of their spending, but allowed them to splurge in return for keeping her alleged illicit drug use secret from Saatchi.
This week, the court has heard that the sisters spent 685,000 pounds, or $1.1 million, on luxury goods — from labels including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Marc Jacobs — from January 2008 through December 2012.
The alleged free spending was only uncovered when one of Saatchi’s accountants noticed large sums on the credit card statements.
Lawson has remained silent regarding the allegations. So far, she has only taken to Twitter to post a couple of recipes, including one for Holiday Hotcakes, which she described as “the perfect recipe to show thanks for all your support & to those who hashtag #teamNigella.”
The Tweet prompted Jemima Khan to weigh in Thursday with one of her own: “If there was ever a harmful charlie addiction, it was only to Saatchi himself,” playing on a nickname for cocaine and the art tycoon’s first name.
On Thursday, Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., Lawson tweeted a recipe for butternut squash with pecans and blue cheese, which she said was “a good whole meal on days when you just feel fleshed-out.”
Lawson’s spokesman has not commented on the allegations due to the ongoing legal case. However, with both Saatchi and Lawson set to take the witness stand as part of the case, all eyes are riveted on London's Isleworth Crown Court.