Nigella Lawson leaves rented home five days after storm breaks
Today, she left the apartment for the first time since pictures were published of her husband Charles Saatchi holding her by the neck.
The television cook, known as the “domestic goddess”, emerged from the exclusive five-storey block over a private members’ club just before 11am carrying a handbag.
Dressed all in black, she appeared pale and drawn, and did not say anything to waiting reporters before getting into a waiting silver Mercedes and being driven away with an entourage of three or four other people.
One onlooker said she had put on some make-up, but her hair was lank and she looked thin and strained. It was not possible to tell whether she was wearing her wedding ring.
Miss Lawson, 53, had been staying in the serviced apartment, which costs up to £12,000 a week, since she moved out of her marital home in Chelsea, West London, on Sunday after a newspaper printed pictures of Mr Saatchi with his hand around her throat.
She has so far made no comment about what happened, but was seen on Wednesday sitting alone outside a restaurant underneath the flat without her wedding ring on.
The incident happened at Scott’s in Mayfair, a seafood restaurant popular with celebrities, on June 9 as the couple celebrated Mr Saatchi’s 70th birthday.
The millionaire art dealer initially described the incident as a “playful tiff”, claiming that he had held his wife’s neck repeatedly to “emphasise my point” while discussing the couple’s children.
However, later the same day he voluntarily went to Charing Cross police station and accepted a caution for assault.
He explained that he did this to avoid having the incident “hanging over all of us for months”.
The photographs have provoked a storm of criticism from campaigners against domestic violence.
Nick Clegg was accused of dismissing violence against women on Thursday after he failed to condemn Mr Saatchi's assault on Miss Lawson.
The Deputy Prime Minister faced heavy criticism after he said he was unable to comment on the pictures because he did not know "whether that was just a fleeting thing".
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said Mr Clegg's comments showed "how little he understands violence against women".
The Lib-Dem leader later issued a statement in an attempt to clarify his views, saying: "I completely condemn all forms of domestic violence."