Nigella: Saatchi likes to control every element

Nigella Lawson may be a “domestic goddess” but she did not accept being called “the lady of the house” in a day when the courtroom was given an insight into life in the family home.

Nigella: Saatchi likes to control every element

In a second day of evidence, Ms Lawson endured another four-and-a-half hours of questions — with some of her responses sparking a few smiles and giggles in the courtroom.

The celebrity cook took issue with defence barrister Karina Arden referring to her as “the lady of the house” — a home she later joked must have been the “cleanest house ever in the world”.

Repeating the term back to the barrister, Ms Lawson said: “I don’t think it is the job of a woman to run a house.”

She said it was the job of both herself and ex-husband Charles Saatchi, and has already told the court she is an “independent woman”.

When asked if the multimillionaire owner of the Saatchi Gallery had an interest in the house, Ms Lawson said: “Absolutely.

“He would go round and point out marks he wanted removed.

“He is a person with a tremendous eye for detail.”

Defendants Francesca, left, and Elisabetta Grillo. Lawson described Francesca as ‘the cleaner who never had to clean’

When Ms Arden was asking if a property owned by Mr Saatchi was sold for £25m (€29.8m), and Ms Lawson said she was not aware of the exact sum, the barrister said the figure had been reported in the press, to which the TV star replied: “Then it must be correct.”

Her response prompted laughter from the members of the court press bench.

The food writer said that, among other duties, defendant Francesca Grillo would organise Mr Saatchi’s frappuccinos and sew buttons on his suits.

Ms Arden asked if Francesca did the food shopping, to which Ms Lawson replied: “I do a fair amount myself.”

The barrister then said: “This is no criticism of you as a domestic goddess.”

At one point, Ms Arden referred to Mr Saatchi as Charles and quickly apologised, to which Ms Lawson replied, as quickly: “I don’t mind what you call him.”

Ms Arden told Ms Lawson that she shares her “penchant for things Italian”, and added that she did not mean that as a criticism.

Ms Lawson said: “I don’t see how that could ever be interpreted by anyone as a criticism.”

When asked by Ms Arden about specialist cleaners who came to their home, Ms Lawson said Mr Saatchi “likes to have control over every element”.

She said: “You make the wrong assumption if you think I was in control of the decisions, and I don’t think for one minute your client would disagree with me.”

Speaking about weekends in which she would have been happy to spend time with the family and do her own washing up, Ms Lawson said she “complied” with her ex-husband’s decision to call in help.

Ms Arden said the former couple’s home had a “silver room” — 12ft by 12ft — filled with tea services, candlesticks, and trays.

The barrister said silver cleaners visited once or twice a month and charged £400 (€480) per visit.

Ms Lawson disputed this, saying that “mostly the silver looked awful” and she was glad to see the back of it.

When Ms Arden suggested she probably did not clean the silver very often, Ms Lawson said: “I do like cleaning silver and cleaning shoes. I find it incredibly therapeutic. I think it’s a rather wonderful task.”

Ms Lawson said that sometimes Mr Saatchi was “in a bad mood”, so Francesca was “frightened” of asking him for cash she might have needed to pay out. She said Francesca had a “good gig” and during the discussion about specialist cleaners, she said: “She was the cleaner who never had to clean.”

As the questions about cleaning went on, Ms Lawson said: “This must have been the cleanest house ever in the world.”

Judge Robin Johnson stopped Ms Arden as she began to talk in detail about the morning routine in the family home, expressing irritation at her telling the court what Mr Saatchi ate.

“What he had for breakfast is neither here nor there,” he said.

Ms Lawson said soon after that she often made Mr Saatchi’s breakfast, and Ms Arden suggested that was “a very rare occasion”.

The court heard that Francesca took a number of holidays with Ms Lawson’s family, including trips to Paris, Berlin, New York, Los Angeles, and the south of France.

Ms Arden asked about an instance when Francesca was called while on holiday.

She said: “There was one occasion when you couldn’t find the remote, you contacted her in Spain.”

Ms Lawson replied: “Yes, that would have made Mr Saatchi very irritable.”

The TV star faced a frenzy of photographers’ flashes as she left the building and made her way to a car, having completed giving evidence in the trial.

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