Two sisters accused of spending almost £700,000 on credit cards belonging to Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi wrote to the couple begging for forgiveness, a court has heard. Elisabetta Grillo, 41, and Francesca Grillo, 35, who are accused of abusing their positions as housekeepers to splash out on luxury items, pleaded: "Somewhere in your hearts you will find a way to forgive us".
Prosecutors claim the Italian sisters lived the ''high life'', spending the money on designer clothes and handbags from Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Vivienne Westwood. An email sent by the sisters to Lawson and Saatchi was read out to the jury at Isleworth Crown Court by prosecutor Jane Carpenter.
"We are at our utmost despair and we are reaching out to you in the sincere hope that somewhere in your hearts you will find a way to forgive us and believe that we never meant in any way to seem to be disloyal or to seem like we took advantage of our positions," the email read.
The sisters told the celebrity couple they believed they had a "bond like a family", and saw them as mother and father figures. "There is not a worst feeling thinking we have in any way let down our family and we are deeply sorry and full of regret," they wrote in the email in October, last year. "All we want to do is put this right and make amends."
As well as sending the email to Lawson and Saatchi, the Grillo sisters forwarded it to a current PA of Lawson, Anzelle Wasserman, who gave evidence on Tuesday. The letter from the former housekeepers continued: "We asked our lawyers to try and settle this ongoing nightmare and we plead with you to find a way in your hearts so that we can stop the fighting which is destroying us and make amends with you as soon as possible.
"This is all we wanted to do from the beginning of this whole nightmare. From the bottom of our hearts we extend an olive branch in the hope that you will understand we never ever meant to hurt in any way. Please forgive us and help us put this right."
The Grillo sisters, of Kensington Gardens Square, Bayswater, west London, are accused of committing fraud by abusing their positions by using a company credit card for personal gain. They deny the charge.
The court was given an insight into the spending at the former couple's household, which included thousands on flowers and concert tickets and cashmere jumpers costing more than £2,000 as a gift from Saatchi to Lawson. The jury heard that Wasserman put the sum on her credit card in July 2010 because the multi-millionaire art dealer wanted his then-wife to have the jumpers in every colour and two styles.
Asked what the £2,250 sum to Shi Cashmere on the statement for her Coutts credit card linked to Saatchi's business was for, Wasserman said: "That was a gift from Saatchi to Lawson. "It's a cashmere company that made made-to-fit cashmere jumpers and he wanted her to have all the colours and in two different styles."
Saatchi and Lawson spent nearly £25,000 on flowers for their home over a 17-month period. The court heard that between March 2011 and August 2012 £24,866 was spent at florist Scarlet and Violet on Wasserman's Coutts credit card.
"That was the flowers for the household," she said. "They came once a week and they arranged big vases of flowers for the house. There was about five big vases throughout the house and they came and they arranged it in the house." The family spent £10,564.43 in April 2010 on VIP Glastonbury tickets for the couple's children, bought through website Tickets to See.
"That was the children's Glastonbury tickets and they all took a friend with them and they were VIP Glastonbury tickets. We didn't actually have the time to get them when they all came out so we had to get these special tickets for them on Tickets to See."
The sum was part of nearly £29,000 spent on the website between June 2008 and September 2012 on tickets for concerts and the theatre, the court heard. The jury was told that £28,833.70 was spent over 32 separate transactions with the site. Wasserman admitted: "It's an expensive ticket place because they got tickets that have been sold out, they got VIP tickets, they are expensive but they are exclusive VIP tickets."
Other payments on the card included £2,240 to Ralph Lauren, and £3,733.95 to Annabel's private members club in Berkeley Square, London for "Mr Saatchi's red wine". One transaction was to vintage couture shop William Vintage, the jury heard, apparently for Lawson.
Wasserman toldd the court: "Mr Saatchi wanted her to have a specific item so I put it on my card." Wasserman, who has worked for Lawson since 2004 after starting as a tutor for the children before becoming a personal assistant, said when she was given her credit card it was clear what the "ground rules" were.
"It was to be used for transactions or expenses for the household and that I was not allowed to draw any cash on the credit card." She said she would spend on average about £4-5,000 per month on the card and was allowed to use it for personal spending, but only on instruction from Saatchi or Lawson for something specific for something like a birthday.
"It was always very clear what I was allowed to spend if it was personal," she told the court. She added: "It was always a specific gift, it was never open-ended, buy yourself a gift. It was specific."
If she did buy something for her self on the card, such as food for herself whilst shopping in Waitrose for the family, she would pay it back by putting cash into the petty cash in the house, Wasserman said. "The ground rules were, the cards were used for the household and if I didn't use it for the household and it was for something personal, the instruction would be clear that I am allowed to use it for so-and-so.
"When we got the cards we were told we have to use it for the household." The court heard she had received several gifts during her time working for the couple, including a haircut and an iPad. Saatchi upgraded her on a flight once, and on another occasion Lawson paid for a flight for her to return to South Africa using her air miles.
Lawson also paid £10,000 for the PA's wedding party in February 2012, the court heard - a sum paid for using the Coutts card. The case at Isleworth Crown Court was adjourned until tomorrow at 10am.