The Nigella Lawson Legal Dilemma – Why Her?

The Nigella Lawson Legal Dilemma - Why Her?

Query: If Nigella Lawson the celebrity chef is unable to enter the US due to some admission of drug use, how come Toronto mayor ROb Ford, who admitted using crack cocaine, can?

It’s a question posed by the Toronto Star which noted:

The case underscores the capricious judgment of U.S. border officers: if Lawson can’t fly to L.A. because she came clean about using cocaine, why could Toronto Mayor Rob Ford appear on Jimmy Kimmel in L.A. after admitting to smoking crack cocaine?

Fellow celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain expressed outrage over this apparent double standard on Twitter Thursday: “Toronto mayor, Rob Ford? Welcome to the USA. Nigella Lawson? No. REALLY? Absolutely appalling misuse of our system. And by whom? How?” he tweeted.

So what is the real issue here? Or issues? How does the law apply?

Nigella Lawson, whose attempts to board a plane were stopped as a result of an evident tip off from her former husband Charles Saatchi, had already admitted to using drugs in the past during a high-profile court case last autumn and was not allowed to board the flight to the US even though she had passed through security and had already been to the US no New Year’s day with nothing to indicate she might have future trouble re-entering the country.

“It could just have depended on who was checking the flight manifest [the register of all checked-in passengers, which legally needs to be sent to the US government before each flight arrival”, she said.

The Daily Telegraph reports that on this recent visit, Miss Lawson is thought to have used the ESTA Visa Waiver scheme, commonly used for short-term visits to the country. Janice Flynn, a specialist immigration lawyer for US Visa Solutions, pointed out that successfully applying for an ESTA was not necessarily enough.

Even with that or a US visa “there is never a guarantee they will be allowed on a flight to the US or entry into the US.”

“A person can be inadmissible to the US for merely admitting to the essential elements of controlled substance violation.

“That person doesn’t have to be charged or convicted of a controlled substance violation to be barred from the US.”

She added: “Considering she [Nigella Lawson] seems to be developing a career in the US, as an US immigration lawyer, I would have advised her of the consequences of making such an admission in a court of law as it could limit her ability to travel to the US in the future.”

There is, however, a possibility that the incident is not related to Miss Lawson’s admissions in the courtroom last year.

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