This story is rather shocking, and even though Nigella Lawson (a UK-based celebrity chef and host of her own programme, “Nigella Bites”) isn’t that well known stateside, this tale is well worth covering because it’s bringing attention to the issue of domestic violence, which still carries a stigma and is generally only discussed behind closed doors. In a very public setting, however, Nigella was choked by her husband of nearly ten years, Charles Saatchi, during a heated argument. And the Mirror has acquired rather graphic photos that detail the sequence of events.
We don’t have access to the pictures discussed in this story, but you can see them here. Nigella appears distressed and utterly humiliated that her husband would treat her in such a manner, but a couple who witnessed the event says she tried to calm Charles by kissing him on the cheek, which is just heartbreaking to read. I guess this went down a week ago, and the photos are just now surfacing as part of a Mirror cover story. What’s particularly disturbing about this incident is that people saw this happen in a restaurant at an outside table that was in full view of the street, and nobody intervened at all. Nobody reported sh-t. In fact, nothing at all would have come of this incident if the photos hadn’t been sold to the Mirror, so I guess this is something of a victory for tabloid journalism because we’re talking about it now. Here are the gory details:
Her eyes are transfixed as she struggles to prise away the powerful hand squeezing around her throat.
Glamorous TV cook Nigella Lawson looks stunned to be attacked by her art collector husband Charles Saatchi during a vicious row at their favourite London restaurant. Fellow diners and passersby at Scott’s in Mayfair were shocked to see the advertising multimillionaire reduce his celebrity wife to tears.
Saatchi launched a tirade of angry words. 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.
Several times she nodded intently while the conversation became more and more heated. By the end of the meal she was clearly distraught and in tears. Now there are fears of severe problems in their 10-year marriage – his third and her second. Nigella has been abroad frequently promoting her latest book and TV series while Saatchi, 70, has become ever more reclusive and tetchy.
The bust-up came after the couple had just finished eating at the specialist seafood restaurant. Nigella and Saatchi always ask for the same table, which is outside because he likes to smoke. It is partly sheltered by olive trees and box bushes. But the attack could be clearly seen and heard by other customers and those passing by the restaurant in the busy street.
Nobody intervened although the incident looked brutal.
A couple on the adjacent table, who briefly chatted with Nigella earlier, turned round and gasped in alarm as they saw her in distress. She dabbed her eyes on a linen napkin as Saatchi tapped his cigarettes impatiently on the table. Nigella then downed her glass of red wine in one gulp and began to talk, her voice trembling. She seemed to be trying to pacify her husband, placing a hand on his left wrist as it lay on the table. At that moment she leaned over and kissed his right cheek.
“It was utterly shocking to watch,” said one onlooker. “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.”
Saatchi, 6ft and 17 stone, marched off, leaving his wife sobbing at the table and grasping her mobile phone as he got into a car the couple had waiting. The onlooker said: “He looked guilty. It was clear he knew he’d done something wrong. He was menacing, there’s no question. She had been abused and humiliated in public.”
As Nigella walked to the car she put a hand to her mouth and bit her lip while wiping away tears. The pair returned to the £12million converted warehouse in Chelsea, central London, where they live with his daughter Phoebe, 19, and her children Cosima, also 19, and Bruno, 17 – all from previous marriages.”
[From The Mirror]
The Mirror goes on to detail how Charles is a jealous douchebag who hates Nigella’s fame and refuses to eat his wife’s cooking because “his ultimate act of rebellion has been to reject her food.” Nice guy, right?
According to The Telegraph, Scotland Yard has now decided to investigate the incident, and the Mail has photos of Nigella leaving her and Charles’ home with a suitcase (her teenage son, Bruno, was with her) a few hours after the photos were published. The Mail has also posted another photo of Nigella and Charles earlier this year at the same restaurant with Charles placing a hand over Nigella’s mouth; the site goes on to quote some neighbors of the couple who claim the relationship is “volatile” and that the pair has been overheard arguing in the street on prior occasions.
I hate to say it (really), but it sounds like this isn’t the first time Charles has gotten physical with Nigella. Instead, this is probably only the first time it’s happened in a public setting, which could serve as a wake up call to Nigella, who only decided to leave after the photos were published. Hopefully, Nigella will stay strong after leaving the marital home and never return, and hopefully, Charles will be prosecuted for getting violent with his wife.
Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet and WENN