Accused: sisters Francesca, left, and Elisabetta Grillo. Photo: Reuters
A former personal assistant of Nigella Lawson and her art dealer ex-husband Charles Saatchi has denied she was a fantasist and a "shopaholic".
Francesca Grillo, 35, and her sister Elisabetta, 41, are alleged to have spent £685,000 ($1.25 million) on credit cards belonging to the TV cook and the multimillionaire Saatchi.
On Wednesday, the court heard the siblings bought designer clothes, shoes and luxury holidays on the cards.
Nigella Lawson, pictured leaving court earlier this month.
The younger sister was accused by prosecutor Jane Carpenter of lying about her expenditure on a work credit card having been authorised by Saatchi and Lawson, who divorced earlier this year.
"I haven't lied to this court," said Ms Grillo. "I don't think I'm a fantasist as Ms Lawson suggested. I would have to disagree."
Ms Carpenter said Ms Grillo had admitted being a "shopaholic" in a phone call after the allegations of fraud came to light, but the defendant said of that claim: "I don't think so."
Addressing claims that she took advantage of her position and felt she was "on to a good thing", Ms Grillo replied: "I didn't have to feel like I was part of a good thing.
"They were my family. I was very, very lucky. They loved me, I loved them back. Despite being here defending myself ... I still have feelings for them."
The seven men and five women on the jury were shown pages from Lawson's latest cookbook, Nigellissima, for which Ms Grillo said she and her sister contributed a recipe for lasagne which was published.
"She refers to two friends from Calabria, or two sisters," added Ms Grillo.
She claimed that during her trips to her native Italy while employed by the family, she would use the company card to buy food items and props for Lawson which were used in the book.
Asked why she offered to pay back money to the Saatchi-Lawson family when she was confronted with allegations of misusing the credit card, Ms Grillo said she had hoped things would get back to normal.
She added: "It's difficult for people to understand how close I was to these people ... It's not like any person down the street. You want to make things better."