Charles Saatchi accepted police caution so Nigella Lawson assault 'would not be hanging over us'
Charles Saatchi accepted a police caution for assaulting his wife, Nigella Lawson, to avoid having the incident “hanging over all of us for months”, he said today.
The millionaire art collector was interviewed by officers about photographs showing him with his hand around the television cook’s throat after he attended a police station voluntarily on Monday.
By accepting a caution, Mr Saatchi admitted he had assaulted his wife, but he had earlier played down the attack, claiming that the pictures taken outside a fashionable London restaurant merely showed the couple having a “playful tiff”.
Today he said he had spoken to officers in order to clear up the affair.
"Although Nigella made no complaint, I volunteered to go to Charing Cross station and take a police caution after a discussion with my lawyer because I thought it was better than the alternative of this hanging over all of us for months,” he told the Evening Standard.
Ms Lawson, 53, was left in tears after her husband held her by the neck during the row earlier this month at Scott's in Mayfair, where they had been celebrating Mr Saatchi's 70th birthday.
The wealthy art lover admitted the photographs looked horrific but claimed he was trying to "emphasise my point" during a debate about their children. He said she was seen weeping because she hated arguing rather than because she was hurt.
Ms Lawson has left the family home with her children. Her spokesman would not say when she was planning to return or comment on whether the couple had separated.
Scotland Yard confirmed that a 70-year-old man voluntarily attended a central London police station on Monday and accepted a caution for assault.
Mr Saatchi said in a statement: "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 emphasise my point.
"There was no grip, it was a playful tiff. 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. We had made up by the time we were home.
"The paparazzi were congregated outside our house after the story broke this morning, so I told Nigella to take the kids off till the dust settled."
Ms Lawson’s spokesman declined to comment on Mr Saatchi's statement.
However, Heather Harvey, of the charity Eaves For Women, said: "There is no way you can dismiss that as a 'playful tiff', and there is no way that you can think that is an acceptable way to 'emphasise your point'."
Polly Neate, of the domestic violence charity Women''s Aid, added: "Abusive men will often attempt to excuse or minimise their behaviour."
Ms Lawson, the self–styled "domestic goddess", who has sold more than three million cookbooks, was seen driving from the marital home in Chelsea, west London, on Sunday in a taxi with Bruno, her teenage son from her first marriage, who carried a suitcase.
She has admitted that she and her husband have fiery rows, describing him as "an exploder".