Sisters Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo were cleared of
defrauding the couple of 685,000 pounds ($1.12 million), saying
there was an understanding they could spend anything on credit
cards if they kept quiet about Lawson's drug taking.
The trial has produced a litany of sensational stories about
Lawson and Saatchi's household before the couple's high-profile
divorce earlier this year after the millionaire art dealer was
photographed grabbing his wife by the neck in a restaurant.
A well-known TV star and author in Britain and the United
States, Lawson told London's Isleworth Crown Court she smoked
cannabis occasionally at the end of her marriage to Saatchi and
took cocaine several times in her life but not regularly.
The Italian sisters alleged that 53-year-old Lawson used
cocaine, cannabis and prescription pills "daily" for over a
Lawson, nicknamed the "Domestic Goddess" after the title of one
of her best-selling books, grabbed newspaper headlines globally
as she stormed into the court immaculately dressed and made-up
to deny the claims and rebuke Saatchi for dragging their marital
woes into public and trying to destroy her reputation.
[to top of second column]
"I don't have a drug problem, I have a life
problem," said Lawson who is set to be a mentor and judge on U.S. TV
cooking show "The Taste" on Walt Disney Co's ABC network in 2014.
Lawson and Saatchi, 70, ended their 10-year marriage in July, and he
accepted a police caution after newspapers published pictures of him
with his hands around his ex-wife's neck at a London restaurant a
The fraud case has exposed the bitter rows between them, once one of
Britain's most famous couples, the excesses of their wealthy
lifestyle, and their treatment of their staff.
The court was told by the prosecution that in the four months to
June 2012, Francesca Grillo, 35, spent an average of 48,000 pounds a
month and 41-year-old Elisabetta 28,000 pounds.
(Writing by Belinda Goldsmith; editing
by Michael Holden)
[© 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2013 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.