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Couple cooked their own goose in 'divorce battle' court proceedings

THIS was a clear case of mistaken identity in as much as it was a divorce battle masquerading as a fraud trial.

While the setting was red-brick Isleworth Crown Court and the accused were two mousy Italian sisters, the proceedings were pure box office gold. The court calls Nigella Lawson, the Marie Antoinette of Belgravia, and Charles Saatchi, the art-collecting Sun King of Shoreditch. Come all ye peasants and marvel at their lavish lifestyles!

For it is not the spending of the Grillo sisters for which this case will be remembered, but the glimpse into the spending habits of the rich and famous. The bulk buying of cashmere jumpers. The monthly credit card bill the size of some annual salaries. The teams of little helpers for mother and father. Secret stashes. Fields of fresh flowers. The VIP trips to Glasto for the children. Age of austerity? Not on your Nigella.

How different it had seemed when the couple separated after that now infamous spat in a restaurant.

Following a civilised parting of the financial ways, all appeared calm. The reality was anything but. The grilling of the Grillos was an opportunity for marital war by other means, and Lawson and Saatchi grabbed it like shoppers in a January sale.

As professional image makers, both went into court determined to leave a favourable impression. This time, however, the touches were clumsy, the soundbites too slick.

He, the author of the "Higella" email, was the heartbroken, misunderstood spouse who adored his ex still. Really?

She was the miserable, downtrodden wife, out of love with love. Is that so?

Raven of hair and pale of professionally made-up face, she swept into court like Snow White in kitten heels. "I did not have a drug problem, I had a life problem," she said, a line sure to go down in the annals of wronged womanhood alongside, "There were three of us in this marriage". There are a lot more now.

The cleared Grillos were only ever minor players in this designer drama and will soon be forgotten.

Talk now turns to the impact of the case on Nigella's career. Having admitted cocaine use, the prospects for the domestic goddess Stateside do not appear rosy. Still, the now divorced couple could always reconcile to write a book about the trial - Charles and Nigella: How We Cooked Our Own Goose.

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