One of the Grillo sisters has been given Nigella Lawson a grilling (apologies) on the stand, saying her former employer (that being Nigella) snorted cocaine every three days using rolled up £20 notes and American bank notes, and also freely smoked cannabis in front of her children.

The allegations were made by 41-year-old Elisabetta at Isleworth Crown Court in London yesterday in the ongoing fraud trial against her and her sister Francesca, 35, who are accused of racking up approximately £685,000 on company credit cards.

Nigella last week admitted to using cocaine just seven times in her life and admits she did smoke cannabis for much of the final year of her troubled marriage to art dealer / neck clutching enthusiast Charles Saatchi.

Quizzed how often she saw evidence of the 53-year-old star's alleged cocaine use, Elisabetta said: "Like every three days. Regularly. Not only once, for sure." The former aide says she never challenged her boss about her drug use but Nigella was aware she knew.

Elisabetta claims she first witnessed the domestic goddess' cocaine habit when she was married to late husband John Diamond, who died in 2001.

She said: "I was cleaning and I noticed a little packet on top of the toilet. It was a little funny envelope (what would be a wrap). I saw white powder. I saw cash, like £20 notes, rolled up and once noticed a credit card with white powder and a CD with white stuff on."

She also claimed Nigella would smoke cannabis in front of her children, Cosima and Bruno, who were led to believe it was medicinal. Well, if she had glaucoma or arthritis it would be.

The Italian assistant added: "They said she was smoking cannabis with them. She couldn't sleep so she'd go downstairs and smoke. They'd say that was helping mama."

To be fair, mama was in need to help. Nigella endured a very hostile relationship with an abusive mother ("She was funny but depressed and so sensitive to noise. The sound of a plastic bag being crinkled would send her deranged. She’d shout at all of us and say, 'I’m going to hit you till you cry', and so I never would cry. I still don’t."), who died of cancer aged 48. Then her sister died of cancer, her husband died of cancer, her second husband went on to abuse her... that would be enough to send most people on a one way ticket to oblivion. Probably best not to do it in front of the childers if at all possible, though.