British TV cook Nigella Lawson faces no action over drugs: police

LONDON Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:55am EST

Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson leaves Isleworth Crown Court in west London December 4, 2013. REUTERS/Luke Macgregor

Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson leaves Isleworth Crown Court in west London December 4, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Luke Macgregor

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LONDON (Reuters) - British TV cook Nigella Lawson will not face legal action after admitting to a court that she had taken drugs, as a prosecution could deter future witnesses from being truthful, police said on Monday.

Lawson, 54, dubbed the "Domestic Goddess" after the title of one of her cookery books, made headlines globally when she told a court she had taken cocaine several times and smoked cannabis at the end of her 10-year marriage to art dealer Charles Saatchi.

The revelations came as her two former assistants, on trial for defrauding the high society couple of 685,000 pounds ($1.12 million), argued there was an understanding they could spend at will if they kept quiet about Lawson's drug taking.

The pair were acquitted at the end of a three-week trial last December but Lawson's admission to the court led to a police investigation.

A spokesman for London's Metropolitan Police said a specialist team had examined all the available evidence and a review concluded there would be no further action by police.

"The decision has been taken based on a number of factors, including the need for police action to be proportionate, whether further action would be in the public interest, and after consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service," the spokesman said in a statement.

The police said there was serious public interest concern about the message any prosecution would send to potential witnesses and victims in the future.

"Whilst witnesses clearly cannot simply admit to any offence under oath without consequences, this has to be balanced with the requirement for victims and witnesses to tell the truth. Further police activity may deter victims from being candid with police and in court for fear of future investigation," it said.

Lawson, a TV star and author well-known in Britain and the United States, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The trial of the two assistants, sisters Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, enthralled Britain with lurid tales of drug use, lavish spending and marital bullying.

It followed Lawson and Saatchi's bitter divorce last July. Their marriage fell apart after Saatchi was photographed clasping his wife's throat at a restaurant in London's Mayfair.

The Italian sisters alleged that Lawson used cocaine, cannabis and prescription pills daily for over a decade.

Lawson denied that she was a habitual drug user but told London's Isleworth Crown Court that she had smoked cannabis occasionally towards the end of her marriage to Saatchi and had taken cocaine several times in her life but never regularly.

She said she was "disappointed" when the sisters were acquitted and complained she had been "maliciously vilified" in the trial that had provided a stage for a sustained campaign by her ex-husband to destroy her reputation.

The fraud case exposed the bitter rows between Lawson and Saatchi, 70, co-founder of the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, and the excesses of their wealthy lifestyle.

Lawson is currently starring in TV cookery contest show "The Taste" broadcast in both Britain on Channel 4 and in the United States on Walt Disney Co's ABC network.

(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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