Father of TV chef Lawson's assistants arrested for mob ties

Thu Jan 9, 2014 9:16am EST
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By Manuela D'Alessandro

MILAN (Reuters) - The father of two former Italian assistants of Britain's celebrity chef Nigella Lawson has been arrested for conspiring to sell cocaine and hashish as a member of the Calabrian mafia, investigators said on Thursday.

In a court case that ended last month, sisters Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo were cleared of defrauding Lawson and her ex-husband Charles Saatchi of 685,000 pounds ($1.13 million).

Michele Grillo, 66, was taken into custody on Wednesday after a long investigation into the criminal activities in Italy's financial capital Milan of the Barbaro-Papalia mafia clan, which is based in the small Calabrian town of Plati.

Judicial sources confirmed on Thursday that Grillo was the father of Elisabetta and Francesca. There was no suggestion that the daughters had any link to Grillo's case.

In the Lawson trial, the sisters had argued there had been an understanding that they could spend at will on credit cards if they kept quiet about the chef's drug taking.

Lawson admitted during the trial that she had taken cocaine several times and said she had smoked pot occasionally in the final year of her marriage to art dealer Saatchi.

A well-known TV star and author in Britain and the United States, Lawson has been nicknamed the "Domestic Goddess" after the title of one of her bestselling cook books.

SELLING DRUGS   Continued...