JAMIE Oliver has expressed sympathy for fellow chef Nigella Lawson, likening the trial of her former personal assistants to reality TV show The Only Way Is Essex.

The TV presenter spoke out after details of Ms Lawson's life, ­including of her relationship with ex-husband Charles Saatchi, were heard in open court.

He said: "I felt bad for her because she's such a lovely lady and what she does, she does very well. Then that [court case] just turned into a show, like watching TOWIE - seeing it all unravel in front of everyone. I know she'll be okay because basically the public like her and that's what it comes down to."

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Oliver made his comments just over two weeks after Italian sisters Elisabetta Grillo, 41, and Francesca, 35, were cleared of fraud following their trial.

He said he believed Ms Lawson would remain ­popular, adding: "We will all still like Nigella."

The Grillos were accused of spending £685,000 on credit cards belonging to Ms Lawson and her multi-millionaire art dealer ex-husband Mr Saatchi, who divorced in July. The sisters both denied the charge and were acquitted.

Appearing as a witness in the case, Ms Lawson admitted she had used cocaine.

Last week she spoke about the trial on US TV show Good Morning America and said her only desire during it was to protect her two children.

Ms Lawson added that having details of her ­acrimonious split from Mr Saatchi talked about in court was "mortifying".