Charles Saatchi said he was "bereft" that an email where he said ex-wife Nigella Lawson was "off her head on drugs" had gone public. He told a court that he "did not know" if she had ever taken drugs.

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Mr Saatchi said he was "bereft" that an email he sent to his ex-wife Ms Lawson in October had been made public. In the email he referred to her as 'Higella' and said that the chef was not able to oversee her personal assistants because she was on drugs.

"Nigella, I was sent these by a newspaper and I can only laugh at your sorry depravity," said the message read out in at Isleworth Crown Court.

Now the Grillos will get off on the basis that you ... were so off your heads on drugs that you allowed the sisters to spend whatever they liked Charles Saatchi in an email

The email is a piece of evidence at the trial of Mr Saatchi and Ms Lawson's personal assistants - Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo - who stand accused of fraud for allegedly spending more than £685,000 of the couple's money on themselves.

The email continued: "Of course now the Grillos will get off on the basis that you ... were so off your heads on drugs that you allowed the sisters to spend whatever they liked and yes I believe every word the Grillos have said, who after all only stole money."

Speaking in court on Friday, Mr Saatchi said that he was "bereft" that the private email had been read out in public, and that he had "no proof" that Ms Lawson had ever taken drugs.

I have never, never seen any evidence of Nigella taking any drug whatsoever Charles Saatchi

Mr Saatchi told the defence lawyer that he thought the Grillos sisters might use a story about alleged drug use by Nigella as a defence in the fraud trial.

He said: "The stories that the Grillos were parading was that Nigella had a severe cocaine habit that stretched back a very long time for the entirety of our marriage. What I was speculating here was that the Grillos would use this as a defence."

'Don't know if she took drugs'

Asked by defence barrister Anthony Metzer QC, if he was aware of Nigella's alleged drug use, Mr Saatchi said: "Like you, I like proof. I have no proof."

He later said: "I have never, never seen any evidence of Nigella taking any drug whatsoever. I want to be helpful, but I genuinely have no real knowledge at all."

When asked by Mr Metzer if he became aware of Ms Lawson's alleged drug-taking around the time of the "Scott's Restaurant incident" when he was photographed holding her neck, he said it was indeed around that time.

Mr Metzer asked if he was "shocked", to which Mr Saatchi said he was. "I'm very against drugs," he added.

Ms Lawson is scheduled to appear before the trial, which continues next week.

Italian sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo are accused of using credit cards loaned to them by the celebrity couple to spend more than £685,000 on "living the high life".

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