“…a beautiful young woman with the walk of a queen” wrote W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory in their famous nationalist play Cathleen Ni Houlihan and yesterday, as I watched Nigella Lawson walk into court with commanding regality, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Yeats’ and Gregory’s line. The 53-year-old appeared as a witness in the trial against her former personal assistants, Francesca and Elizabetta Grillo, both of whom are accused of defrauding Nigella and her ex-husband Charles Saatchi of hundreds of thousands of pounds by using their credit cards without Nigella or Charles knowing. However, amidst claims of “habitual drug use” by Nigella, the trial has quickly escalated into a media frenzy, whereby Nigella has had to defend herself to the world’s media. And she did so beautifully. Outwitting the Grillos’ defence lawyers at every turn, Nigella has churned out some delicious one-liners over her two-day stint in the witness box and here are some of her best ones:
Anthony Metzer, QC to Nigella: “When you unfortunately separated from Mr Saatchi”, Nigella interjects with, “I wouldn’t say unfortunately…”
Anthony Metzer to Nigella: “Your staff are now part of what they call ‘Team Nigella’?
Nigella: “No, they call themselves ‘Team Cupcake.’
Metzer asks Nigella if she moved into Saatchi’s home before or after their wedding and she replies, “Oh, I think it was a bit before. Sorry to shock you.”
Nigella to Metzer: “You’re zig-zagging a bit.”
Metzer asked Nigella to address some bank statements and when she couldn’t find them, he suggested that she wasn’t accustomed to looking through bank statements very often. However, it turned out that said statements were never present in Nigella’s or the juror’s pile of documents and Nigella wasted no time in pointing out the court’s sloppiness by quipping, “Perhaps you were a little bit hasty in your ‘you don’t look at bank statements very often’.”
Karin Arden, defence for Francesca Grillo: “Was Francesca ever a confidante to your children?
Nigella: “Well, if she was a confidante to the children, I wouldn’t know about it.”
Arden asks Nigella if her ex-husband’s home was sold for £25million and when Nigella says she is unsure of the exact sum, Arden retorts that that was the figure “reported in the press”, to which Nigella cuttingly and brilliantly quips, “Then it must be true.”
Nigella to Arden: “I promise you … regular cocaine users do not look like this.”
It was pointed out to Nigella that she once left the house with white powder on her face, which was apparently foundation, but Nigella had the courtroom in chuckles when she joked, “Don’t you know I have a very bad coke habit.”