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Jurors urged to 'ignore' PM's Nigella comments

Jurors urged to 'ignore' PM's Nigella comments

Jurors at the fraud trial of TV chef Nigella Lawson's two aides have been told to ignore comments made by the prime minister about her character.

Mr Cameron told Spectator magazine that he is a big fan of the 53-year-old and that she always comes up with good recipes, something that leads him to spend time watching her programmes on the television with his daughter Nancy.

"I've had the great pleasure of meeting her a couple of times and she always strikes me as being a very funny and warm person," the Conservative politician added.

However, the judge at a trial pertaining to alleged fraud conducted by two assistants of Miss Lawson believed the comments could intervene with the trial. As such, jurors at the Isleworth Crown Court hearing have been told they must disregard the prime minister's statement.

"It's a matter of regret when people in public office comment on a person involved in a trial which is in progress," presiding Judge Robin Johnson said.

"It is inconceivable that some of your number have not seen the reports. The defendants feel aggrieved as the comments ... are favourable to Miss Lawson."

There was media furore earlier in the trial after Miss Lawson's ex-husband Charles Saatchi claimed the two assistants stole hundreds of thousands of pounds from his credit account because Miss Lawson was a cocaine addict who did not report their crimes in fear they would leak her secrets to the press.

Miss Lawson admitted she had used the drug on a small number of occasions, but argued this had no impact on her life.

The celebrity chef also claimed Mr Saatchi told her he would ruin her reputation unless he presented him in a more positive light - an assertion that the property magnate has rebuffed.

Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, 35 and 41 respectively, are accused of using Mr Saatchi's card to spend more than £685,000 - something they deny.

The trial continues.

By Chris Stevenson