Nov. 29, 2013 at 1:17 PM ET
Millionaire art dealer Charles Saatchi told a court on Friday he still "absolutely adores" his ex-wife, TV chef Nigella Lawson, despite their very public divorce in July.
The celebrity pair ended their 10-year marriage and Saatchi accepted a police caution after newspapers splashed pictures of him with his hands round her neck at a London restaurant in June.
Lawson, often nicknamed the "Domestic Goddess" after the title of one of her best-selling recipe books, is a cookery author who is popular in Britain and the United States.
Saatchi's comments came during the trial of the pair's two personal assistants, Italian sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, who are accused of fraud by using credit cards lent to them by the couple to spend more than 685,000 pounds ($1.1 million) on themselves over four years.
They deny the accusations and their lawyers have claimed that there was a "tacit understanding" that the sisters were allowed to spend what they liked as long as they did not tell anyone about Lawson's alleged drug use.
Saatchi, 70, told the court he did not know whether his 53-year-old ex-wife used drugs. "I have never seen any evidence of Nigella taking any drugs," he said.
He added: "I'm utterly heartbroken that I have lost Nigella and I wish this past year had never happened. I adore Nigella now, I absolutely adore Nigella and I'm broken-hearted to have lost her."
Isleworth Crown Court in West London has been told by the prosecution that in the four months to June 2012 alone, Francesca Grillo, 35, spent an average of 48,000 pounds per month and 41-year-old Elisabetta 28,000 pounds.
At various times, the court has heard, they spent lavishly on flights to New York, hotel stays, designer handbags and expensive clothes. In a single month they made around 100 taxi cab journeys.
The trial was adjourned until Wednesday.
Copyright 2014 Thomson Reuters.