Jury retires in Saatchi PA fraud case

Jury retires in Saatchi PA fraud case
Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo.

The jury in the trial of two sisters accused of defrauding Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson has been sent out to consider its verdicts.

Francesca Grillo, 35, and her sister Elisabetta, 41, are alleged to have spent £685,000 on credit cards belonging to the TV cook and her art dealer ex-husband, who were divorced in July.

The Grillos, of Kensington Gardens Square, Bayswater, west London, each deny a single count of committing fraud by using a company credit card for personal gain between January 1, 2008, and December 31 last year.

It has been alleged that the Italian women committed fraud, abusing their positions as personal assistants by using a company credit card for personal gain.

Elisabetta, sometimes referred to in court as Lisa, and Francesca allegedly lived the “high life”.

The court heard they used the credit cards loaned to them by the TV cook and her ex-husband Mr Saatchi to buy designer goods from Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Vivienne Westwood.

Francesca stands accused of spending the largest amount on herself with a sum of £580,000.

She is alleged to have bought designer clothes and shoes as well as going on luxury holidays.

Judge Robin Johnson told the jury as he sent them out: “The battle lines in this case are clearly drawn.

“The Crown’s case is that these two women, over a long period of time, acted dishonestly and knew perfectly well they were acting dishonestly.

“The defence case is that they had authorisation, either specifically, in terms of items bought and hotels, or implied – a taxi, taking out cash.”

He told the seven men and five women they had to reach a unanimous verdict.

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