The two aides – Ms Francesca Grillo, 34, and Elisabeth Grillo, 32, were first employed by Nigella Lawson early in her career and took up roles working for her and her former husband, John Diamond, before his death in 2001. The women were reportedly respectively paid £28,000 per annum and £25,000 per annum. Their jobs would range from babysitting Nigella Lawson’s children to aiding Mr Saatchi in his business activities. However, they were sacked last year after it was allegedly discovered that they had over-spent on the credit cards that had been issued to them by Lawson and Saatchi.
After the Grillo sisters had been sacked Mr Saatchi apparently decided to take legal action against them in a breach of contract claim in order to recover the money that they had been over-paid. The allegations against the sisters are that they spent tens of thousands of pounds on designer goods, taxi journeys and a flight to New York and that these transactions were not authorised by either Lawson or Mr Saatchi.
As well as civil proceedings for breach of contract in the High Court, the pair have apparently also been charged with criminal offences under the Fraud Act 2006 and are apparently due to appear before the Isleworth Crown Court later this year.
A spokesman for Mr Saatchi has stated that the proceedings were “instigated with the full knowledge and approval of Nigella Lawson and other family members”.
Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the breach of contract case that “over-claiming expenses can not only lead to the termination of your employment but can also lead to significant claims for breach of contract against the offending party. Employees should always seek to gain the authorisation of their employer before spending heavily on expenses or they could find themselves facing embarrassing and costly court proceedings”.