What a difference three days makes: earlier in the week, the press splashed on the alleged drug use by Domestic Goddess (tm) Nigella Lawson, predicting the end of her career on both sides of the North Atlantic (the Maily Telegraph is for some reason still holding to this line). Now, after Charles Saatchi fetched up at Isleworth Crown Court yesterday, it all looks so different.
But Nigella, you only just served pudding, remember?
Saatchi was now contrite. He told his inquisitors that he had, contrary to the tone of his email to her accusing her of being “off her head on drugs”, never actually seen her taking an illegal substance (his own nicotine addiction – he’s a chain smoker, hence being at an outside table at Scott’s restaurant – is not mentioned, as it’s legal) and he was going entirely from her former assistants’ testimony.
So that rather shoots the supposedly damning email to pieces. And finishing it off completely is Saatchi’s admission that its tone was “nasty”, which is something of an understatement, although at least honest. Moreover, in a moment Trinny Woodall might not have enjoyed hearing, he told the court “I adore Nigella now... I'm broken-hearted to have lost her”.
This was all very touching, but those who have examined Saatchi’s apparently controlling and abusive behaviour will not have been surprised to hear that he still believes he can put forward a reasonable explanation for the moment at that Scott’s outside table when he was snapped with his hand around his now ex-wife’s throat, the moment that led her to finally walk out on him.
“I was not gripping, strangling or throttling her. I was holding her head by the neck to make her focus, can we be clear?” he told the court, a statement that will have the Daily Mail features desk on the phone to Melissa Kite in short order, probably highlighting Saatchi’s comment “Bravo – you have become a celebrity jurist on a global television gameshow and you have got the pass you desired, free to enjoy all the drugs you want forever. Classy” for good measure.
What it now comes down to is this: Saatchi admits he never saw Nigella do drugs, and that “I don't like drugs at all and I didn't like reading what the Grillos said was the culture in my home” (nicotine excepted, it seems). If Ms Lawson turns up and says she didn’t, and is backed up by her oldest daughter, that means one thing.
It all turns on the credibility of the Grillo sisters. That’s the sisters who are accused of fraud. On that I will make no further comment. For Saatchi, however, no matter how contrite he was yesterday, his inability to see that what he did – and was seen to be doing – to his ex-wife outside Scott’s restaurant is not acceptable, and he should desist from trying to explain it away.
Charles Saatchi’s reputation is at an all-time low. It’s time he shut up about it all.