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Nigella Lawson faces police drugs investigation

By Peter Wilkinson and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
December 22, 2013 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • UK police to examine evidence that celebrity chef Nigella Lawson took cocaine
  • News came days after Lawson's two former assistants were cleared of fraud
  • Both assistants claimed to have seen signs of repeated drug use by Lawson
  • Lawson admits having occasionally used drugs including cocaine

London (CNN) -- British police said Sunday they would examine evidence suggesting that celebrity chef Nigella Lawson took cocaine.

The news came days after Lawson's two former personal assistants were cleared of fraud in a trial that saw the chef admit to occasionally using drugs including cocaine.

In a statement on Sunday the Metropolitan Police said a specialist team would examine "all the evidence emerging as part of a review into this matter and in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service, will determine an appropriate way forward."

However, police added that there was "no imminent prospect" of a prosecution being mounted against Lawson.

"The Senior Investigating Officer received legal advice that the witness's admissions did not by themselves provide sufficient evidence to bring charges."

On Friday Lawson spoke out angrily against what she said were false claims of habitual drug use made against her in the trial of sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo.

Francesca Grillo had been accused of defrauding Lawson and her ex-husband Charles Saatchi of $950,000 (£580,000), and Elisabetta Grillo of defrauding them of $172,000 (£105,000). Both denied the charges.

The case gripped UK media, thanks to revelations of drug use by Lawson and insights into her troubled marriage to Saatchi, a millionaire art collector. The couple divorced this year.

At the trial, both sisters claimed to have seen signs of repeated cocaine and cannabis use by Lawson.

However, both testified that they had never seen her take drugs. Saatchi likewise said he had never seen his ex-wife use drugs.

Elisabetta Grillo told the court that Lawson had smoked cannabis with her two children from her marriage to her first husband, the late John Diamond.

In her own testimony, Lawson confirmed she had taken cocaine half a dozen times, during two periods of her life, and used cannabis in the past. But she denied being a habitual user.

Lawson, who was a prosecution witness, said she was "disappointed but unsurprised" by the verdict. She slammed what she said was a sustained campaign to ruin her reputation.

"Over the three week trial the jury was faced with a ridiculous sideshow of false allegations about drug use which made focus on the actual criminal trial impossible," Lawson said in a prepared statement.

"My experience as a witness was deeply disturbing. When false claims about habitual drug use were introduced I did everything possible to ensure the (Crown Prosecution Service) was aware of the sustained background campaign deliberately designed to destroy my reputation."

READ: Nigella Lawson - flirtatious celebrity chef

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