Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson appeared to be crying and distraught as husband Charles Saatchi grabbed her throat during a tense al fresco lunch nearly two weeks ago at a London restaurant Scott's, as revealed in shocking photos published over the weekend. But art mogul Saatchi, 70, defended himself and dismissed the disturbing photos to the Evening Standard June 17.
"About a week ago, we were sitting outside a restaurant having an intense debate about the children, and I held Nigella's neck repeatedly while attempting to emphasize my point," Saatchi explained. (Married to multimillionaire Saatchi since 2003, the former Food Network star has kids Cosima and Bruno with her late first husband John Diamond.)
"There was no grip, it was a playful tiff," Saatchi insisted. "The pictures are horrific but give a far more drastic and violent impression of what took place." He added of the Nigella Bites star's tearful expression: "Nigella's tears were because we both hate arguing, not because she had been hurt. We had made up by the time we were home. The paparazzi were congregated outside our house after the story broke yesterday morning, so I told Nigella to take the kids off till the dust settled."
A rep for Lawson tells Us Weekly: "We will not be commenting on the images."
Scotland Yard confirms to Us that the incident is now being investigated. "Officers from the Community Safety Unit at Westminster have already begun an investigation. Inquiries are in hand to establish the facts."
The couple were spotted having a much more amicable meal at Scott's this past Saturday June 15. "They sat outside as usual, he smoked a lot but their conversation was very normal," a source told Us. "They seemed relaxed and happy. When I saw the pictures on Sunday I was shocked that [the incident] had only happened a week earlier."