Staff 'made to buy Saatchi books'

Staff 'made to buy Saatchi books'

Nigella Lawson's staff were made to buy copies of Charles Saatchi's books in order to help them up the bestseller lists, a court has heard.

Elisabetta Grillo, who worked as Lawson's housekeeper for more than 10 years, said she spent £200 on his books four times a week at stores around London and on Amazon. She told the court that other members of staff were expected to do the same.

Grillo is accused of defrauding Saatchi of £105,000 spent on a corporate credit card, alongside her sister, Francesca, who is accused of spending £580,000. They have both denied the charges in a case being heard at Isleworth Crown Court.

Elisabetta told the court: "I took cash out for different things, to pay my phone bill, I also took cash out to pay for books because Charles wanted to push it up the bestsellers lists. I took out £200 and we would go around different stores across London four times a week, Waterstones and also Amazon. All of the staff had to do it."

When asked if she was exaggerating, she replied: "No".

Saatchi, the co-founder of advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi and a well-known art collector, has published five books, which have sold a combined 44,995 copies through BookScan, for a value of £330,168.

His bestselling title is Be The Worst You Can Be: Life's Too Long for Patience and Virtue (Booth-Clibborn Editions) which has sold 17,677 copies for £140,487 since 2012.

The agency Saatchi founded with his brother Maurice in 1995, M&C Saatchi, helped create the Books Are My Bag campaign to promote books and independent book shops, which launched in September.

The case continues.