LONDON — Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, testifying Wednesday in the fraud trial of two former assistants, denied using illegal drugs and accused her ex-husband of spreading the allegation to savage her reputation.
Lawson said Charles Saatchi had threatened to destroy her if she did not clear his name after he was photographed gripping her throat outside a restaurant, the widely published image that was soon followed by a divorce.
Coverage of the trial has focused more on the failed marriage of Lawson and Saatchi and their tempestuous home life than on allegations that two women working for them were living the high life at the couple's unknowing expense.
Lawson, 53, appeared as a prosecution witness at the trial of Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, longtime employees who worked as nannies, cleaners and assistants in the couple's home.
She said she had been reluctant testify because she had already been subjected to a campaign of "bullying and abuse" from Saatchi, whom she divorced in July following the throat-grabbing incident.
"He said to me at the start that if I didn't go back to him and clear his name he would destroy me," Lawson said.