America's TV style queen Martha Stewart lied to federal investigators as to why she unloaded 4,000 shares in biotech company ImClone, charged assistant US attorney Karen Patton Seymour in Tuesday's New York court hearing.

Stewart is arraigned alongside her stockbroker Peter Bacanovic on charges of lying to obstruct an investigation into possible stock insider trading two years ago.

Specifically the sale of ImClone stock in 2001 -- triggered, avers the prosecution, by insider knowledge passed to Stewart by her close friend, the company's former chairman/ceo Sam Waksal.

Asserted prosecutor Seymour: “She was told a secret that no other investor had.” However, neither defendant is charged with insider trading.

But Stewart's attorney Robert Morvillo was on his feet in a flash. "There will be no direct evidence introduced by the government that Martha Stewart conspired to obstruct anything,” he countered.

The trial is expected to last about a month, with both sides seemingly playing the gender card. A female public figure is arraigned before US District Court Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum presiding over a female prosecutor with a predominantly female jury.

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff