Judge slams British PM's Nigella comment

Last updated 09:38 13/12/2013
Fairfax Media

The judge in the fraud trial of two former assistants to celebrity chef Nigella Lawson has criticised British Prime Minister David Cameron for saying he was on 'Team Nigella' while the trial is in progress.

Nigella Lawson
Reuters
UNBOWED: Nigella Lawson leaving court.

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A British judge has chided British Prime Minister David Cameron for saying he was on "Team Nigella" during the fraud trial of two former assistants to celebrity cook Nigella Lawson and her former husband.

Judge Robin Johnson told jurors at Isleworth Crown Court in London that he had seen a number of articles that "centre on the prime minister commenting about a prosecution witness, Ms. Lawson, during an interview with a journalist."

"It is of regret when people in public office comment about a person who is involved in a trial which is in progress," said the judge, who told jurors the comments should "have no bearing on your own views."

Sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo are accused of spending 685,000 pounds (NZ$1,35 million) on credit cards belonging to the celebrity couple to buy designer goods and luxury holidays for themselves.

They deny the fraud charges.

The trial has been overshadowed by revelations about the domestic life of Lawson and her ex, art collector Charles Saatchi. The couple divorced in July after he was photographed grabbing her neck outside a London restaurant.

Lawyers for the Grillo have claimed Lawson was a regular user of cocaine who sanctioned their high spending in return for silence about her drug habit.

Lawson, 53, strongly denied that during an appearance on the witness stand last week. She acknowledged taking cocaine a handful of times but denied being a regular drug user.

"I promise you ... regular cocaine users do not look like this," said the cook, known for her voluptuous figure.

The case has generated a huge amount of media commentary, much of it favorable toward Lawson.

Cameron was asked during an interview with The Spectator magazine whether he was on "Team Nigella," and said: "I am. I'm a massive fan."

He added: "I sometimes watch a bit of Nigella on telly. Not in court, I hasten to add."

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- AP

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