UPDATE: Nigella Lawson Photographed Being Choked By Husband Charles Saatchi In Restaurant

UPDATE, 1:30p.m. — In a statement to the UK’s Standard newspaper, where Charles Saatchi is a columnist, he claimed the couple was having a “playful tiff” and said he was only holding onto her neck to emphasize a point (as you do?):

“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 yesterday morning, so I told Nigella to take the kids off till the dust settled.”

Nigella Lawson still has not made a public statement regarding the incident.  [Standard UK]

Domestic violence happens in every income bracket. Nowhere is that more visually apparent than in the disturbing photographs taken of celebrity chef Nigella Lawson being choked in a London restaurant by her husband, Charles Saatchi, on June 9.

The pictures — taken at the Mayfair restaurant, Scott’s — show the couple seated together at a table, apparently arguing, as Saatchi has his hands gripped around Lawson’s throat. She was also photographed leaving the restaurant crying.

According to the UK’s tabloid Mirror, witnesses saw the couple arguing and Saatchi, an art collector, grabbed Lawson around the throat four times, at times using both of his hands; at one point, he also tweaked her on the nose. A witness told the tabloid Lawson was “trembling” but that at the end of the incident, she leaned over and kissed her 70-year-old husband and they left the restaurant together. Said a witness:

“It was utterly shocking to watch. I have no doubt she was scared. It was horrific, ­really. She was very tearful and was ­constantly dabbing her eyes. Nigella was very, very upset. She had a real look of fear on her face. No man should do that to a woman. She raised her voice and got angry but at the same time was trying to calm him down, almost like you would try to calm down a child. The kiss was a strange thing. He was being ­intimidating, ­threatening. And yet she kissed him. She ­appeared to be a woman who loves him but was clearly unable to stop him being abusive, ­frightening and ­disrespectful to her.”

The UK’s Daily Mail reports that Lawson has not made an official complaint to police, but due to the images, there will be an inquiry into the incident.

After the images went public this weekend, Nigella Lawson was seen leaving her home in a taxi cab, helped by her 17-year-old son Bruno. She also has a daughter, Cosima.

It’s unclear whether Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson have a past history of abuse in their 10-year relationship; neither have spoken to the press since the pics were published.

It speaks volumes about Saatchi that he abused her in public, inside a restaurant the couple frequents. It’s one thing to abuse someone in private, feel ashamed and not want others to see what you do; it’s another thing entirely to abuse someone — especially when you are both famous — in public with the reasonable expectation that you’re going to be seen.  And I’m questioning why other diners at the restaurant watched Nigella Lawson being choked by her husband, and even took pictures of it happening, without intervening.

With so many bystanders, someone should have said something. It’s everyone’s business when we witness a person being abused and it’s shameful that people keep their heads down.

[Mirror UK]
[Daily Mail UK]
[Fox News]
[Guardian UK]

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[Photo via Splash News]