Photos of billionaire art collector Charles Saatchi with his hand around the throat of his wife, the celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, have prompted tabloid fodder, police involvement, and comment from politicians in England, as what appears to be a horrifying case of domestic abuse went very very public.
One of the disturbing photos was published on the front page of the Sunday People tabloid, showing Lawson looking strained as a hand gripped her neck. According to Sunday People, the couple was dining at London restaurant Scott's when "Saatchi launched a tirade of angry words." The paper continued: "Four times he grasped her around the neck with Nigella, 53, looking powerless and petrified. At first he used only his left hand, then both. At one stage he tweaked her nose then pushed both hands in her face. Twice Nigella jerked her head backwards as if in fear."
Saatchi, known for his work in advertising and his art patronship, has since given a statement to the London Evening Standard, where he is a columnist, writing the encounter off as a "playful tiff" resulting from an "intense debate about the children" in which he said he "held Nigella’s neck repeatedly while attempting to emphasise my point." He said: "The pictures are horrific but give a far more drastic and violent impression of what took place. Nigella’s tears were because we both hate arguing, not because she had been hurt."