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Lawson's Ex-Husband To Testify; Black Friday Shopping Is Here

Aired November 29, 2013 - 07:30   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The bitter battle between celebrity chef, Nigella Lawson, and her multimillionaire ex- husband, Charles Saatchi, stumbles on. Saatchi turned up in court yesterday, but left because there wasn't enough time for him to testify. At the center of this criminal case, are two former personal assistants. Sisters, Francesca and Elizabeth Grillow, they are accused of defrauding the celebrity couple of over $1 million, by splashing out on luxury groups for themselves using company credit cards.

The sisters deny these fraud charges. In a shocking e-mail read to the court early this week, Saatchi accused his ex-wife of using cocaine and marijuana on a daily basis. This is what enabled the former assistants to spend whatever they liked. Saatchi's accountant took the stand and claimed at one point the sisters spent more than $100,000 a month on Saatchi's company credit card.

He says he was suspicious of these expenses, but didn't alert Saatchi because of more pressing matters and he didn't want to bother him with what he thought were trivial matters. Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi divorced earlier this year after photos from this restaurant of Saatchi grabbing Lawson's throat during an argument made front page headlines.

Saatchi accepted a police caution for assault. A spokesperson for Nigella Lawson says she won't be making any comments while the case is ongoing.


FOSTER: Charles Saatchi expected to appear in the next few hours. Currently, his accountant is still answering questions. They are interested to find out why Charles Saatchi didn't really react after all of his money was ending up going through his credit card over a period of years.

The accountant said that, well, Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson didn't do their own shopping. They had five personal assistants to do that. They weren't surprised by these massive bills coming in every month, but when they dug into it, they did get suspicious. That's why they are here now -- Don and Michaela.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Unbelievable.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Max, Max Foster, thank you so much for that.

LEMON: Five assistants. That's amazing. I want to bring in now, listen, Nigella Lawson, not on trial. I want to bring in now HLN legal analyst, Joey Jackson. Joey, again, she is not on trial here. It is about her assistants. Her husband also is alleging that she used cocaine. How damaging, if at all, is this going to be to her reputation and her brand?

JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Here is the problem. The problem is we have a tort, a fancy word for saying a civil wrong if something affects your reputation. Reputations are so important to preserve, that you can sue someone over them. The issue is, going to it be injurious. Will it damage her reputation or will it enhance her brand, right? You could argue that any publicity is good publicity, right.

There is a long list of celebrities who may get negative publicity and it may increase the ratings of her show. So Don, the question is to that, the jury is still out and then the other issue is, is it true? Anyone can make an allegations, marijuana, prescription drugs, cocaine.

The issue is, whether it is true and whether it is self-serving. If I am caught with my hand in the cookie jar, she said, I could do it as long as I didn't tell. It is a self-serving allegation. Who knows if it is true?

PEREIRA: From a legal standpoint and again, this is happening in London. This isn't happening here. So we are looking at different laws that rule the different nations. If they find out there is some truth to these allegations or any truth to these allegations of drug abuse, she potentially could face charges herself, could she not?

JACKSON: Maybe, maybe not. At the end of the day, what's happening, if you are using drugs or in possession of the drugs, generally, they are taken from you, they are analyzed and they are determined to be that substance. Without that, it is he said, she said, allegations and everything else. In terms of her facing charges, I don't know that we going to see that. The bigger issue is how it might affect her in the future, her reputation, her brands --

LEMON: The allegation is already out there. For some people, once you say, even if it is an allegation, they believe it -- absolutely. Remember the pictures at the restaurant with him with his hands around her neck. People going to think, well, this is just him getting back at her because of all those things.

JACKSON: It is a great point, Don. Whenever someone testifies in court, you look at their credibility and the motivations of why they would say things. Is this someone because of the divorce now that is sour grapes? Is it someone who is saying something because it is self-serving to them? So all of that is looked at, but at the end of the day, she is going into the second season of "The Taste." The ratings of that show may very well increase because of the fact we are talking -- LEMON: I remember when Paula Dean was going through her thing. It was really the CEOs of companies that decided that. It wasn't the marketplace. They were buying up her DVDs. They were buying her products. They were buying -- the general public -- it became a best seller. They look to her not because she is a role model, but because the girl can cook. Do they really care?

JACKSON: It is a great point, Don. We are not talking about someone who is a politician running for office saying, my goodness. She is human. Now, she is real and relatable. As a result of that, she is imperfect and we always want to give someone a second chance.

PEREIRA: The thing to remember which makes this extra bizarre is that she is not even on trial. We go back to what we started this with. She is not on trial.

LEMON: Her brand is.

PEREIRA: Her brand is certainly being tested. Joey Jackson, thank you for coming on the day after Thanksgiving.

JACKSON: Thank you.

PEREIRA: Next up on NEW DAY, the chief of America's biggest retailer joins us next. He is going to tell us about Black Friday and what they are talking about in terms of the monster sales. What are their expectations?

LEMON: That's my mom's favorite store. She lives in that store.

PEREIRA: She is not in that melee?

LEMON: She might be. Later, crying over a spilled soda, the NBA punishing Coach Jason Kidd over a delayed tactic. Does the punishment fit the carbonated crime?

PEREIRA: Carbonated crime? That's a hashtag.

LEMON: I wrote that myself. Not really.


LEMON: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. The holiday shopping season is officially underway with many stores opening up on Thanksgiving to get an early start on sales. Take a look at this video from opening of Wal-Mart stores last night. As you can see, people showed up in droves ready to spend.

I think my own mother was in one of those melees. Bill Simon is the president and CEO of Wal-Mart. He joins us now. Good morning to you. Thank you. I was telling you in the break, my mom says I have to be nice to you because she lives in Wal-Mart. It is her favorite store. What is the fascination with Americans and Wal-Mart?

BILL SIMON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, WALMART: It is just a great opportunity for people to get everything they might need at the best prices in the country. Our logistics network and the way we operate, the lower margins we take, give people the opportunity to get everything they might need at prices that are fantastic.

LEMON: How you are doing, Mr. Simon is a good gauge of the economy and how well others may do especially during this holiday shopping season. How have you done so far? What are you expecting because America is going to be paying attention?

SIMON: Well, last year, we reported that we had over 22 million customers in over the Black Friday evening Thursday evening. We had substantially more than that last night. So we are very pleased with the turnout. Customers came out in large numbers to our stores. The customers were shopping very broadly. So we are encouraged by the start to the Black Friday shopping weekend.

LEMON: So you think people are going to be spending in the weeks ahead? Because the National Retail Federation expecting 7 million fewer people to be shopping this Black Friday than last year.

SIMON: Yes. You know, it is interesting. As you know, it is a bit of a compressed season. There is a week less between Thanksgiving and Christmas so retail this year is going to be very competitive. There are a lot of folks out there, our competitors that are sharpening their pencil. Competition is good. It is an opportunity for the customers to do very, very well. Some of the deals last night at our store ended and the retail was fantastic. People took advantage of them.

LEMON: Let's talk about some of the video. We saw of the people, there are all excited about shopping, but there are protests scheduled today for a number of stores around the country, people saying, you know, Wal-Mart should not be open especially on Thanksgiving day. Protests saying worker pay. What is your response to that?

SIMON: Well, on the Thanksgiving thing, we have been open on Thanksgiving since the mid-80s. We are a service industry like hotels and airlines. When customers want to shop, we are open. That's what we do. We have been doing that for quite some time. Black Friday, we just talked about it. Millions and millions of people out shopping is the big stage.

Wal-Mart is a big player on the big stage. As there are those who want to try to change a service industry like retail, it is not unexpected that they would be out on Black Friday at Wal-Mart with something to say about that.

LEMON: Before we move on to talk about a little bit more about work or pay, there are many people. People have to get out of their beds on Thanksgiving Day or leave their families. Many believe that people should be at home with their families. These workers have to go in and work. I know they are compensated but still.

SIMON: Sure. They are compensated. They get holiday pay. We offer a very special and deep discount for those people that work that day. They came. Our associates were able to take care of customers. Most folks did like I did, had an early Thanksgiving dinner with their family and then went to work. We were out. All of the Wal-Mart leadership team was out yesterday working in our stores with our associates side by side. We saw some fantastic people doing fantastic work at helping customers. It was really a good night for us.

LEMON: As I mentioned to you, my family is a Wal-Mart family. My mom and sisters love shopping there. It is like the people in the store are part of their families. With that said, you are facing a walkout from a group called all Wal-Mart. They say they aren't paying their workers enough and they aren't treating them well. Do you plan to consider increases in pay and are you looking at this group's complaints?

SIMON: Just to set the record straight, Don, thank you for the opportunity to do that. We pay in the top half of retail. Our industry offers the opportunity to enter at any life stage, from 16 to 76 if they would like to. They can work hard and build a career. Entry-level jobs are in our store. We have lots of opportunity for people to grow into management.

Today, over half of our folks make well above the amount that is requested. Over slightly half of our workforce being full time and the other half being part time as people get a chance to join our company in an entry-level job. I started as a dishwasher in a restaurant. I'm sure you had an entry level job at some point. We are proud of the opportunity that people have to progress in our company.

LEMON: I haven't worked at Wal-Mart. We had the CEO of Macy's on earlier. I started here in New York as Christmas relief during the Thanksgiving holiday and moving into Christmas and New Year's exactly during this time of year. I don't want to keep harping on this because I want to talk to you on the day after Thanksgiving about more festive things.

Finishing up here, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Wal-Mart violated the National Labor Relations Act by harassing and firing employees in 14 states. Do you plan to address the managers there about their alleged mistreating of employees?

SIMON: Well, that's a case that's still pending. It will end up having our say and I going to be able to defend those charges in court. We don't do that. That's just not accurate.

LEMON: OK, so let's move on and talk about Black Friday and shopping. It is all cheers. You are very happy. You think it is going to be great. Do you have any concerns or any worries about shopping, something that people may be looking for and may not be able to get at Wal-Mart?

SIMON: Well, we try to take care of everybody. By and large, with well over 22 million customers last night, I think we did a pretty good job. The event is not over. There is more to come this morning. Big events kicking off at 8:00 with manager specials and a deep, discounted price on things you might need to decorate your home, light, trees, stuff like that. Some great prices on some food items too so there is still a lot going on today. We are able to take care of as many customers as we possibly can. Anybody that might be disappointed and contacts us, we going to make sure we take care of them as well.

LEMON: So as you are speaking, I'm looking at some of the video and it appears that you may need some bigger carts. People are trying to stuff in these big-screen televisions and other large items, electronics, into those carts. Do you warn people when they go in not to get confrontational? Are you worried there is not enough to go around?

SIMON: Well, you know, actually, I went and helped a couple customers last night in San Antonio I went and fetched a few more carts for them. They filled up their buggies and need more room. I was happy to do that for them. By and large, our events have changed over the years. We implemented a couple of protocols and programs. We had a one-hour guarantee. We took the 20 hottest items and bought them in deep enough quantities so there wasn't that frenzy to try to get one.

Anybody who was in our building during that time frame was guaranteed to get one of those items. If we ran out, we will fulfill them through in the coming days. So they have the item for their Christmas or holiday celebration. So that calm things down in our stores quite a bit from where they had been many, many years ago.

Systems are changing. The process is changing. By and large, there were a few small incidents. We were really, really pleased with the way the event went last night.

LEMON: How is the crowd where you are?

SIMON: Where I was last night was fantastic. We started the day here in Arkansas, went to San Antonio and toured some of our stores in San Antonio and just saw a very, very, very deep crowds. We did tour some of our competitors and went to the malls. There was a lot of traffic out in all the stores. So we are encouraged.

LEMON: Happy belated Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to you, happy New Year. Thank you, Bill Simon. Appreciate it.

SIMON: Thank you, Don and thank your mother for shopping with us.

LEMON: I will. She is watching. I'm sure. Thank you, sir -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: A happy Thanksgiving to Mama Lemon.

Next up on NEW DAY, one cola could cost Coach Kidd $50,000. Does that seem extreme? We are going to chat about that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PEREIRA: We'll talk about that crash in a second. Welcome back to NEW DAY. We were having a discussion about turkey and Thanksgiving, Nischelle does dressing, I'm a stuffing kind of gal. We had that whole debate yesterday.


LEMON: You know what mine is?

PEREIRA: All of the above. Not coffee. Speaking of, what are you having --

TURNER: Where did you find him today?

PEREIRA: We'll talk about a beverage, this beverage causing some controversy and costing somebody some money. Let's talk about Coach Kidd perpetrating it.

TURNER: So we discussed it a little bit yesterday, we saw the video of the player, Tayshawn Taylor bumping into him on the sideline. We saw also when you look closely he said, hit me. Then he knocks it over.

LEMON: He is the worst actor ever, Nischelle.

TURNER: The question is, was it a good coaching move or was it cheating because what he was doing was trying to create an extra time- out his team down by three points and trying to get another play in.

LEMON: Can it be both?

TURNER: Well, yes, it can be both. They say in NASCAR if you isn't cheating you isn't trying. This cost him $50,000 by the league so that is --

PEREIRA: They had to nip that in the bud.

TURNER: They had to bring the hammer down because it was so blatant. He was asked about it, sweaty palms, I was never good with the ball. You're a hall of fame point guard.

The question is now, is this starting to permeate into other leagues? Let's look at what happened last night between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens in their game. I'll set this up, Jacoby Jones streaking down the sidelines, breaks free, almost free for 101-yard return. See that figure standing there, Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin in the way.

PEREIRA: I was like oh look at the grid, see?

LEMON: No flag, no penalty, nothing.

TURNER: If the refs determined, he didn't know, you told me he was looking at the jumbo tron so he could have seen Jacoby Jones running behind him and it just being in the way that much gave his defender time to catch up with Jacoby Jones and tackle him. But you're right, Don, they could have penalized him a 15-yard penalty. The refs could have awarded Jacoby Jones a touchdown, but they did not. Not even a flag in this case.

PEREIRA: The grin on his case, the dimples.

TURNER: The Ravens won 22-20, but this could have been the game changer. Look at that. He is also standing in the area where coaches are banned.

LEMON: But you cannot plead ignorance of the law, right?

TURNER: Mike Tomlin is one of the smartest men in the NFL, let alone in life, he's a very smart man. He knew what he was doing.

LEMON: I would say flag on the play.

PEREIRA: Pocket square.

LEMON: Pocket square on the play.

TURNER: I'm keeping this flag -- guys seriously, I don't want to be Debbie Downer. I kind of feel like it's teaching bad sportsmanship. Am I the only one who feels like that? I know there's gamesmanship -- don't you cross the line at a certain point?

PEREIRA: It is crossing the point.

TURNER: You isn't trying if you isn't cheat. You don't get this back because I'm throwing it at you this morning.

PEREIRA: We still have an hour and 5 minutes of Don Lemon. It's too much.

LEMON: It's three against one on this set, including the whole team here. They co-opted. Thanks, Nischelle.

PEREIRA: The steals and deals up ahead on NEW DAY, but Black Friday bargains, are they really bargains or should you wait and see if prices drop closer to Christmas? We'll talk to the pros.

LEMON: And a florid mom who used a controversial stand your ground defense was let out of jail while she awaits retrial. Will she be convicted again is the question? Legal analyst Joey Jackson is back again to discuss that case.


PEREIRA: Mayhem at the mall, the running, the tussling, the buying, it must be Black Friday. The chaos began early. What you can expect the rest of the day.

LEMON: New this hour, one day to go until the Obamacare web site is supposed to be fixed. Is it ready? We're going to talk to a former White House technology leader. ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Walking free she was sentenced to 20 years after firing a warning shot at her allegedly abusive husband, now she is out of prison, but will she end up behind bars?

PEREIRA: Your NEW DAY continues right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.

PEREIRA: Well, one of the three isn't bad. And Don Lemon and Rosa Flores join me on NEW DAY this morning. It is the 29th of November, and it's already 8:00 in the east, the day is ticking by. Kate and Chris have the day off. Thanks for being here.

LEMON: So good to be here with you. This is a real treat.

PEREIRA: No shopping but online. Thirty three million Americans are expected to get their shop on today. The Black Friday frenzy is in full swing. Look at the video crush of people searching for supersized deals, some losing control. The police had to be called in, in some stores, one in California, all the way to Connecticut, to break up fights that were happening there.

The turkey was barely cold when the first wave of shoppers hit the stores last night, Macy's breaking their 155-year tradition and opened their doors on Thanksgiving. CNN's Zain Asher is at the Macy's flagship store in New York City. Zain, how are things going. I know you're seeing people with multiple bags. Are they really kind of doing some aggressive shopping today?