TV cook Nigella Lawson will not be prosecuted for drug use despite admitting in court that she had taken cocaine, Scotland Yard confirmed prompting accusations of ‘double standards’.
The Metropolitan Police is to take no further action against the 54-year-old TV star relating to her confessions during the fraud trial of her two former assistants. In a statement, Scotland Yard said there were “serious public interest concerns” about the message a prosecution would send to potential witnesses and victims in the future, and could deter people from being candid with police and the court.
During the trial of the Grillo sisters last year Lawson confessed to taking cocaine with late husband John Diamond when he found out he had terminal cancer. She also admitted taking the drug in July 2010 when she claimed she was being ‘subjected to intimate terrorism’ by her former husband, Charles Saatchi.
Although Lawson told jurors at Isleworth Crown Court that she had tried cocaine, she denied Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo’s claims that she took the drug often and argued that this allegation was ‘ridiculous’.
The self-styled chef said she was ‘not proud’ but would rather be ‘honest and ashamed’ about what she had done. She also admitted that she began taking cannabis in the last year of her marriage to multi-millionaire Charles Saatchi. He claimed in an email that her drug use meant she allowed their former assistants to spend money freely:
“Of course now the Grillos will get off on the basis that you… were so off your head on drugs that you allowed the sisters to spend whatever they liked and, yes, I believe every word they have said.”
The Conservative MP Robert Buckland, a barrister and former member of the Commons justice select committee, told the Daily Telegraph called for care. “We do not want to discourage people from coming forward to give evidence but consistency in application of the law is very important. People of other social economic backgrounds will often get prosecuted for this behaviour.”
“We all need to ask ourselves why is it we have this very middle class view about drug taking whereas the reality for many families is drug taking is a real blight on lives and causes misery.”
Mary Brett of Cannabis Skunk Sense told the Daily Star that the decision “sent the wrong message to kids”. “I’m not surprised,” she continued. “This is the way it always happens with celebrities. If they’ve got a big name, they get away with it.”
Scotland Yard said that their decision had 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”.
“There are serious public interest concerns about the message any prosecution would send out 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,” the police added.
Police announced in December that a specialist team would examine all the available evidence as part of a review into the matter and following this investigation have concluded that there will be no further action.
Bracken is police and crime reporter for Winchester News Online and student at the University of Winchester