It was known that credit cards were not for personal use, Nigella Lawson says
Lawson says she'd rather be honest about her drug use "than be bullied with lies"
She is testifying in the fraud trial of two former personal assistants
Italian sisters Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo deny embezzling large sums
By Laura Smith-Spark and Kellie Morgan
LONDON (CNN) -- Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson took the stand for a second day Thursday as a witness in the trial of two former personal assistants accused of fraud.
Lawson's first day of testimony gripped the media, as she admitted using cocaine in two periods of her life and spoke of her troubled relationship with ex-husband Charles Saatchi, a millionaire art collector.
The former aides, Italian sisters Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, deny embezzling hundreds of thousands of pounds on company credit cards while employed by Lawson and Saatchi.
Lawson was again asked about her cocaine use and her initial reluctance to come to court as she took the stand Thursday.
The allegations of drug use emerged in June, around the time Lawson and Saatchi were photographed having an argument in a restaurant, Scott's.
In the photos, which were splashed across the front pages of national newspapers, Saatchi is seen with his hand around Lawson's throat and appears to pinch and look up her nose. Saatchi accepted a police caution for assault, and the couple announced they would divorce soon afterward.
Lawson told the court the only thing she objected to was the story "that I was taking drugs at Scott's," a reference to an alleged claim by Saatchi that he was wiping cocaine from her nose at the restaurant.
She said, "I have been frank, and the fact is I would rather be honest, if ashamed, and explain the drug use rather than be bullied with lies about something that happened in a humiliating and very public way."
Lawson said she felt it was her "duty to come (to court). I felt it would be an unpleasant experience, but that's not an excuse not to do one's civic duty."
Referring to Saatchi's request for her to attend the trial, made in a letter sent by his lawyers, Lawson said Wednesday: "He had said to me if I didn't get back to him and clear his name, he would destroy me."
No 'written-down rules'
The two defendants, who worked for Lawson and Saatchi for a number of years, were supposed to use the cards for household expenses, but allegedly spent large amounts on themselves.
Francesca Grillo's lawyer questioned Lawson on Thursday about exactly what her client was responsible for paying for.
Lawson rejected the notion that Francesca had been given free rein to use the credit card.
"There were not written-down rules. ... But it was known that they were not for personal use unless directed," Lawson said. "I don't think any normal person would think that someone else's credit card was for their personal use."
Lawson said she disputed "completely" the claim that Francesca had given her two children and stepdaughter money for lunches, dinners, public transit and excursions amounting to 29,000 pounds in one year.
The chef, who has chosen to stand up throughout her testimony despite being allowed to sit, also hit out at Francesca's lawyer for raising personal details about her children.
"I find it really despicable," Lawson said.
'I did not have a drug problem'
Lawson told the court Wednesday that she had used cocaine about six times with her late husband, John Diamond, when he learned that his cancer was terminal, in order to give him "some escape from his treatment."
She also used cocaine once in July 2010 when she felt subject to "terrorism" by her then-husband, Saatchi, she said. At that point she felt trapped, isolated and unhappy, she said, and a friend offered her the drug.
Lawson also admitted using cannabis but said she has given it up. She said she took the prescription drug Xanax only as instructed by her doctor.
Lawson insisted, "I've never been a drug addict, I've never been an habitual user. ... I did not have a drug problem, I had a life problem."
Lawson described her ex-husband's insistence that she testify in court as a form of bullying.
She added that she feels that there is a "witch hunt" against her and that she is on trial with no counsel and "no rights."
Saatchi had claimed in an e-mail that Lawson had used drugs regularly, but in testimony Friday, he backed off that claim.
In the e-mail, which was shared with the court by the defense in a pretrial hearing, Saatchi wrote that the assistants would probably "get off" because Lawson was using cocaine and marijuana on a daily basis and "allowed the sisters to spend whatever they liked."
Lawson, whose culinary skills and flirtatious manner have long entranced UK audiences, has also appeared as a judge on ABC show "The Taste" in the United States. A second season of the show is due to air in January.
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