Nigella Lawson’s husband says choking was ‘playful tiff,’ receives police ‘caution’

Nigella Lawson

Yesterday’s post about Nigella Lawson being choked at a public restaurant by her husband, Charles Saatchi, was the subject of quite a discussion. To briefly recap, the Mirror acquired exclusive, graphic photos of the incident that showed Saatchi gripping his wife’s throat on the patio of a public restaurant while she looked panicked, humilated, and disturbed. Sadly, nobody in the restaurant or on the street came to her aid, and she was left alone by Saatchi at the table and later fled to her car in tears. The incident happened over a week ago, but nobody (except the do-nothing bystanders) knew what had happened until the Mirror published the pictures. In the aftermath of the photos’ release, Scotland Yard was said to be investigating the incident while Nigella fled the marital home with her teenage son in tow.

For what it’s worth, Saatchi was pictured leaving a central London police station late Monday afternoon after being questioned for over five hours over the photographs. He left with only “a caution for assault,” which means that he’s only received a formal warning with absolutely no penalty. Of course. Saatchi has also given a statement to London’s Evening Standard paper about how it may very well have looked like he was choking his wife, but he insists that it was merely a “playful tiff.” This makes absolutely no sense because Nigella looked absolutely horrified at her husband’s actions, but whatever:

Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson’s husband today declared that pictures of him taking his wife by the neck outside a London restaurant showed nothing more than a “playful tiff.”

Charles Saatchi admitted the couple had a row as they sat outside Scott’s in Mayfair but said they had “made up” by the time they got home.

His comments are the first by either of the pair since the pictures were taken as they were having dinner on the terrace of the restaurant.

The photographs appear to show the 70-year-old art collector leaning across the table with his hand around Ms Lawson’s neck. She seemed to be grimacing and tearful as he held her neck four times, first with his left hand and then with both.

A spokesperson for Scott’s said: “The staff and management at Scott’s are aware of the reports in the media and would like to make it clear that they did not see the alleged incident nor were they alerted to it at the time.”

Ms Lawson, 53, the daughter of former chancellor of the exchequer Nigel Lawson, was reportedly seen to be tearful as she left the restaurant on Sunday 9 June.

Today Mr Saatchi, the former advertising mogul, multi-millionaire art collector and columnist for this newspaper said: “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.”

Ms Lawson has no immediate plans to return home. Her agent declined to comment this morning.

[From Evening Standard]

I’m disgusted by Saatchi’s own justification of his actions — that the act of menacingly placing his hands upon his wife’s throat was all a game and a big misunderstanding, and she only left their home with a suitcase on Sunday because he told her that it would be best to let the controversy blow over for a little bit. The sad thing is that he might be telling the truth about that last part; perhaps Nigella had no intention at all of leaving their home until the following occured: (1) The public was made aware of the choking incident; and (2) Saatchi actually told her to leave. If she’s as abused behind closed doors as I am guessing (and this has probably been going on for quite some time in a decade-long marriage such as theirs) and Nigella is truly lacking confidence as yesterday’s story suggests, then she didn’t want to leave at all.

I can only hope that Nigella has an adequate support network of people who will help her get out of the marriage for good and stay out. She’s probably been hiding a lot of her fear from everyone, so I hope she has people that she can trust who will give her some solid, nonsensical advice. From what a lot of you have indicated in the comments, physical abuse in a relationship is so common that it would surprise a lot of people, and abusers are very good at explaining away their behavior. My personal favorite: “It’s all your fault that I _______. If you wouldn’t keep on __________, I wouldn’t be forced to react this way.” That sounds like something that Saatchi would say, doesn’t it?

Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson

Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet and WENN

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135 Responses to “Nigella Lawson’s husband says choking was ‘playful tiff,’ receives police ‘caution’”

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  1. LadyMTL says:

    I honestly see red when I hear how this man is trying to justify his actions. I only hope that Nigella got a good wakeup call and will stay away from him.

    “Playful tiff”…bullsh*t.

    • Jalopy says:

      Her silence is so loud. It confirms the abuse better than any statement ever could. I just worry about why hes so confident she wont contradict him. I bet hes using a mix of fear and guilt.

      And shes from a very posh childhood so I can only imagine the social pressure to maintain an image. Poor girl.

      There was another angle to this i.e. how the party leader of a party with some support responded. I think he joked about Nigellas body. I am not British so correct me if I am wrong, but this guy is Englands elected rep to the European Parliament. The lesson for me here is that women everywhere have a long way to go.

      • Pip says:

        Jalopy, you’re half right but I think I ought to correct the slight misconception. You’re right in that a repugnant idiot called Nick Griffin tweeted somethign along the lines of “if I had a chance to squeeze Nigella Lawson, it wouldn’t be her throat I went for”. I know. Delightful.

        Nick Griffin is leader of the BNP (British National Party) who are sadly garnering some support as they purportedly stick up for “the working man”. They’re a bunch of thick racist idiots.

        Nick Griffin made the mistake of appearing as a guest on the BBC’s Question Time a year or so ago (there were arguments at the time about whether he should’ve been invited) & showed himself to be completely uninformed, stupid & he was also bizarrely nervous. So I think most people in the UK have learned not to expect anything other than these type of comments from him. Repulsive little coward.

        & as for this whole Nigella situation, I find it hard to articulate my thoughts. I feel so sad for her. it’s truly sickening.

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        Thanks for that detailed explanation, Pip.

        Interesting to see that pompous, entitled, and sexist assholes exist in every country….smh…

    • LakeMom says:

      Playful tiff my lily white hiney! Did you see his clenched fist in that photo?

      I hope the publicity from all this causes her to realize just how dysfunctional her marriage is and she gets out. But sadly, I’m afraid what is more likely is the publicity will cause him to get angrier at her and he will escalate the abuse in private.

      • Stacey says:

        Her recent weight loss, successful book and book tour and her hit show in America must have been very threatening to him. Instead of celebrating and sharing in her latest success this is what he does? And on his 70th birthday celebration lunch in PUBLIC no less.

        Put her down. Put her in her place. Humiliate and abuse her. Pathetic!

        ‘Her cooking is a bit wasted on me’ ‘our friends seem to look forward to it’

      • LAK says:

        Stacey – i do not wish to defend the man, however, in terms of wealth, his own trumps hers by miles. Ditto his career success despite his being retired. In retirement, he continues to be very successful in the contemporary art scene despite treating it as a hobby. He may not have name recognition in the celebrity stakes, but he certainly has it in the business and art worlds. by miles.

        As for his pronouncements, he is well know for being grumpy and a professional Richard Meldrew and refusenik. If you read his column in the evening standard, you would know he is very set in his ways, doesn’t like much and seems a nightmare to be around. Nigella once acknowledged all of this about him, adding that he was incredibly anti-social. When he said those statements, it was generally accepted as part of his known habits and character and not a diss to Nigella since you can find statements about all the things he doesn’t like, of which there are many.

        I was and i remain baffled as to why Nigella took up with him in the first place since his character was well known. His ex-wife was very vocal about his less than stellar qualities through the divorce and the subsequent marriage to Nigella.

        However, i hope she doesn’t stay with him for stiff upper lip reasons. This is a woman who has suffered enough and deserves better.

      • Stacey says:

        LAK thank you for your edited post.

        No excuse for his hands around her throat four times. Hand over her mouth. Pushing her nose. None! Nada!

      • Shoe_Lover says:

        @ LAK the fact that he has more wealth and success then Nigella doesn’t shield him from jealousy. some men (NOT ALL) cannot handle a woman’s success, especially when that woman is his wife, and still in this day and age think that women are nothing more than baby factories or men’s playthings. Some even still hold the idea that a women should only work until she is married and then only in an effort to find a husband.
        I work with a man who in his mind he is some big man about town to be respected and blah blah (he isn’t though because he is a horrible pig). His wife on the other hand is very high up in an international firm and is very well respected here and abroad and is often in the paper. He can’t handle it so he cheats on his wife constantly. Some men just can’t handle female success

    • Suzy from Ontario says:

      He says he repeatedly held her neck while attempting to emphasize his point while having an intense debate about the children… who does that except someone physically abusive? I don’t grab my husband around the neck over and over when trying to make a point! I wouldn’t even think of doing that and vice versa. This guy sounds like a complete and utter jerk and he clearly is not about to take responsibility for any kind of abuse, instead brushing it off as a playful tiff. Really? Was that why she ran to the car crying? Because it was just a playful tiff? I hope she walks out for good. It makes you wonder what other abuse she’s put up with behind closed doors while he was attempting to make his points with her?

      • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

        Pfft. Those aren’t *his* kids and Lawson reinforced that by high-tailing it out of there.

    • F5 says:

      Some of you should get a blog.

      • Another K says:

        I agree! LAK in particular. I don’t often agree with LAK’s comments regarding Kate Middleton but even so I always enjoy reading them because she is so intelligent and writes incredibly well. I’ll bet an LAK blog would be quite popular.

  2. Jane says:

    Playful tiff? Really? Does he think we are totally stupid? She needs to get away from this monster!

    • bluhare says:

      If that was a “playful tiff” I’d hate to see what he does when he’s not feeling so playful.

      • Jane says:

        I totally shudder at the thought. Literally, just now my cheeks became hot with what this man could do when he is out of control.

      • GoldenState says:

        Right? I look at him now and see this ogre of a man. Disgusting. And what’s sad is that it seems like he KNEW he was entitled enough to get away with it.

    • L says:

      Playful tiff my ass. He must think we are all idiots. Or abusers.

      “I held Nigella’s neck repeatedly while attempting to emphasise my point”

      His point being, this is what will happen to you if you don’t agree with me and back down. I’m not choking you, I’m only saying I will do if you wouldn’t agree to do what I wanted you to do.

      Also thought it was interesting that he said “I told her to clear out” instead of “we decided she should clear out”

    • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

      I was comforting her!

  3. Kattt says:

    I was listening to a woman from a domestic violence charity on the radio today who said the worst possible thing any by-standers could have done in this situation is to get involved…

    Oh and ‘playful tiff’? WTF? Her face told a very different story.

    • bluhare says:

      I think I agree, but they could have called 911 (or 999 in the UK). That’s not getting physically involved, but getting the police to investigate.

      • Kattt says:

        Yeah that’s exactly what she said to do. I suppose the worst part of it was people taking pictures of it then selling it to the papers as opposed to doing anything positive and useful about it.

      • Hahahahaha says:

        but she didnt run..She kissed him,and HE walked makes me feel sick.

      • Londongal says:

        I have been there and got the T-shirt and although I highly doubt he beats the hell out of her privately ( He’s a 70 year old) He is NO doubt controlling, bullying and mentally and emotionally abusive as well as physically. I work near ‘Scott’s and the seat they have couldn’t be more public. He’s either so arrogant he thinks his behaviour is acceptable, or else he’s so out of control that he couldn’t control his egoistic tempert depsite knowing the paps and public can see it all. The nose pinching and neck grabbing struck a huge chord as they’re so aggressive without being as ‘bombastic’ as a punch. They’re designed to humiliate, to threaten. The fact she turned ‘Geisha’ and tried to plead, to pacify and then he was the one to storm off, leaving her scuttling behind….it’s all so controlling and humiliating and I recognise it instantly. He was trying humiliate her. His wording even in the explanation gives him away; ‘I told her’ not ‘we decided’. Agree with other comments on here, her silence is DEAFENING. If it was nothing, why doesn’t she just even gently confirm this? Her face in those photos as they get into the cab haunts me. That’s the face of a distraught woman, whose partner thinks *nothing* of upsetting her to that degree IN PUBLIC. All so shameful.

    • lin234 says:

      It’s called the bystander effect: the more people that are around, the less likely one of them will help because everyone thinks someone else will take a stand.
      I was waiting in a parked car with friends and two of them saw a couple arguing in another car right behind us and the guy started hitting the girl on the head repeatedly. They debated about calling the police and decided to do it. The girl got mad because my friends got her boyfriend in trouble and refused to press any charges. She told the police my friends exaggerated the situation. In the end, it took over a hour to deal with the police and the only thanks we got was a pissed off girl for getting police involved. You can’t win sometimes especially in domestic cases.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        Yes, but if that girl gets threatened or hurt by that guy in the future, the incident your friends reported will be on record, right? It might help her at some point if she tries to legally take action.

      • lin234 says:

        Very true tiffany. Thanks for giving me another perspective.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        You’re welcome. I don’t want you to feel bad for doing the right thing! 🙂

  4. kaligula says:

    I saw the photos. Shocking and horrible. Will she finally get away from him after this? Just imagine how he treats her in private. Wonder how he swindled her into marrying him in the first place…. He clearly loathes himself for being a hideous and impotent little boy.

    • bluhare says:

      She didn’t leave until they knew it was going public, so I’d say no, she isn’t planning to leave him at this point.

      • Lucy says:

        uhh I hate to say it but I think you’re right. I really wish that she would leave that disgusting pig of a man and hit him where it hurts, his wallet. She should divorce him and take him for everything he’s got.

      • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

        Yeah, I think that’s what is likely to happen, sadly. I’m not trying to be facetious, but please tell me we’re not going to reading stories about how these two are ‘living their truth’ or whatever nonsense in four years’ time. Hopefully, she’s not just looking to appease the public because he was found out.

        I know, she’s older and wiser, but domestic violence doesn’t really care about those kinds of petty distinctions.

    • colt13 says:

      Just saw them myself. Poor girl looked like she was in shock.

  5. Rhea says:

    Playful tiff?? Huh. I didn’t see her smiling when he grasped her neck in the pictures.

  6. Bluesky says:

    The sad part is that she will probably go back. I am thankful that I have never been in an abusive relationship, and I agree that she probably has been enduring this for years. She would not have let had it not been for the pics being made public. I don’t think she has reached that point where she has the strength to leave him, and I’m sure he’ll cry or buy her jewelry and she’ll come running back.

    • Faye says:


      As I said elsewhere, I used to volunteer at a shelter for domestic violence victims. One of the reasons I had to stop was that it just became too much to see these women (and sometimes their kids!) beaten to within an inch of their lives, but they go back again and again.

      Nigella doesn’t even have the excuse of “How will I support my kids without my husband.” She’s very successful and incredibly talented on her own. It saddens me beyond belief that someone that awesome thinks she doesn’t deserve any better than an abuser. I hate to say it, but I really don’t think there’s anyone that anything can do to encourage women in these situations, except tell them they have support. Women have to be ready mentally to do it on their own.

      • lin234 says:

        I honestly don’t understand it. I think women who are less privileged and stay because they really don’t know how to support their kids is a dilemma I can understand. But she’s rich, gorgeous, successful, etc and she’s staying with a man who obviously abuses her?! Doesn’t make any sense at all. Makes me wonder about her childhood background. It’s sad that those who grew up in abusive parents are more likely to end up in a similar situation.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        Lin, Nigella was emotionally, physically abused by her mom.

      • Myrto says:

        Domestic violence exists everywhere, in very modest households as well as super rich ones and since we’re not in Nigella’s shoes we don’t know how she feels. I know it can be tempting to “judge” her (I know you didn’t mean to) but abusers are also expert at manipulation, alternating between violence and love. Since she clearly loves him, well this is super fucked up. We’ve all been blinded by love haven’t we? Clearly not to the extent of Nigella’s case but my point is, I’m pretty sure domestic abuse is way more common than we think it is and sometimes when you love somebody it’s hard to recognize and admit that they shouldn’t treat you like crap and abuse you.

      • FLORC says:

        It’s all too common. Sometimes it’s the person you think could never hurt a fly and no one has ever seen them angry that is the worst, most violent abuser. And there are men and women in abusive relationships that have a group of people that love them, but no one can help until they want out of the relationship. And sometimes they’d help, but never know what’s going on.

        It’s so hard to understand why people stay and why people abuse. Even if you’ve been in an abusive relationship it’s difficult to analyse from the outside looking in. Feelings are so complicated and mixed. Nothing is easy.

      • lin234 says:

        🙂 Not judging at all. Just don’t understand. I’m aware domestic violence exists on all socioeconomic households and I can understand when a woman stays because depends on her husband for money and security but I do have trouble understanding a successful woman who puts up with violence for love. I guess my capacity for love is limited when someone treats me like crap.

      • Virgilia Coriolanus says:

        The victim can’t and won’t leave until he/she wants to. I had a great aunt, as my mother tells me, that had a very abusive boyfriend. She would leave him constantly, and would drag the whole family into it….they would go over, help her pack, and so on. I mean, I’m not talking about choking her, this dude would knock out two or three of her teeth sometimes. And every time they helped her move out, within a month or so, she would be back with him. So eventually they stopped helping her.

      • balehead2012 says:

        Exactly. I just don’t understand her either. And I’m not saying this as a judgement, I just don’t understand the reason why a beautiful, charismatic, successful woman like her, who could walk away easily (having the means to support herself and her child) would stay in an abusive relationship. Honestly, it’s very baffling for me. I understand that women are sometimes ashamed, afraid to leave abusive husbands, that they maybe have children to support and don’t have the means to do so, but in this case. Why did she put up with it?

      • LAK says:

        Nigella was emotionally and physically abused by her mother, who then died.

        Staying with Saatchi and or putting up with his behaviour, especially the way she reacted to him as he strangled her, is behaviour she learnt from childhood.

        It’s really sad because her previous husband John was so sunny and delightful and treated her like a princess.[if we are to believe all the published reports during their time and at his death].

        What’s even sadder is that John gave this marriage his blessing.sort of.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        I really hate to get into something so personal about someone I don’t know…but Nigella seems to have lived with a history of abuse. In this article, she says that her mother would tell her and her siblings that she was going to hit them until they cried. I think being a victim as a child probably has a great influence on how she handles this situation. She has probably trained herself to buckle down and push on through it.

      • lin234 says:

        Honestly, when I asked about her childhood, I was wondering if her dad hit her mother. If there is potential that she’s learned behaviors from her mother physically abusing her then I’m in trouble.

        Then again, my love for my mom is extremely limited to non-existent (awful thing to say, I know). In fact, I’m working on liking her. Maybe it makes a difference that I have a dad who has always treated me the best he could. He went above and beyond because he couldn’t control how my mom treated me.
        I’ve never put up with anyone who would lift a finger.

        **Just read the article and it scared me how many similarities we have. My mom was abusive because she was hot-blooded and didn’t have an ounce of patience. She came from a culture where corporate punishment was the norm. She’d often only stop after her arm hurt then blame us for her pain. That was nothing compared to the verbal abuse she hurled at me. She openly admit to disliking me because she felt my father loved me more than her after I was born. It scares me how much of Nigella’s story I can relate to.

        And yet, up to some point, it bewilders me even more because I’d never let anyone treat me like that again.

  7. Faye says:

    What, don’t you always choke your spouse or partner lovingly and playfully? *eye roll*

    This makes me so sad. Until the police and society start taking “domestic” violence seriously, it will keep happening. I used to volunteer at a shelter for women who suffered from domestic violence, it is a problem that crosses all income levels and classes. The women need to press charges and feel supported enough not to drop them.

    • bluhare says:

      Personally, I prefer a good shot with a well aimed stiletto but that’s just me.

    • Nicolette says:

      Agreed. This is what pisses me off about Rihanna. After her very public bout of abuse, she could have turned around and become a spokesperson against domestic violence. She could have brought the message home that it could happen to anyone. She’s rich, famous, not married to her abuser and doesn’t have kids with him, and fully independent yet she became a victim.

      Women, young women especially could have looked up to her as a role model. She could have made a lot of good things happen out of a bad situation. But no, she goes back with him and sends a very bad message instead.

      As for Nigella’s husband to refer to this as a ‘playful tiff’ is disturbing. That he was let go with only a warning is infuriating.

      @bluhare, love the stiletto comment. I’d nail his balls to the wall.

      • gg says:

        Rhihanna’s not a good or mature enough person to do this. She didn’t want the responsibility and she doesn’t think anything is amiss. It’s all normal behavior for her. Partying is far more important.

        Which is sad. Maybe, just maybe one day she’ll grow up. Or not.

        Imagine if this happened to J-Lo instead. She’d hang his balls over the mantle.

      • Reece says:

        The thing is that abusers never go for the people who fight them back. When confronted they do exactly what this pos has done put their smart clothes and their nice face and best attitude and say something like it was just a “playful tiff” that looked worse than what it was. Bull Shit!

        @gg I wouldn’t pick JLo as an example. She seems to always need to be attached to somebody.I don’t ever remember her being single for an extended amount of time.

      • Bijlee says:


      • Bijlee says:

        Rihanna and nigella grew up in abusive households. That’s really not fair. I dislike Rihanna too, but I’m a little tired of people ragging on her constantly for this. Abuse is a very difficult thing to get out of. It’s confusing for people suffering abuse because they see a lot more of the person then you do. You can’t just expect her to do it, especially when EVERYONE rags her bout it and makes jokes about it. She’s a victim of abuse, dot you honestly expect her to act that differently when she’s been surrounded by it her entire life?

      • ataylor says:

        Yeah, I wouldn’t use JLO as an example either. Aren’t there rumors that JLO was abused by Marc Anthony? He already has the reputation of being a very controlling and abusive man (at least in Spanish media). Could’ve sworn that Dayanara Torres or his first wife accused him of mental or physical cruelty before…

  8. Nanz says:

    I really like Nigella. I love to hear her talk about her cooking. She’s funny, intelligent, and she has some recipes that are super easy to replicate at home. I make some of her holiday stuff every year. So I was heartbroken to read about this over the weekend. No one deserves abuse. I hope she doesn’t continue to suffer personally, and certainly not professionally. Victims of abuse tend to be “punished” by the public when they don’t act in a way that people think they should. I hope she leaves him, but I’m prepared for the fact that she may not. I won’t judge her either way because it takes several attempts to leave before it sticks. I hope he doesn’t kill her first. Really. Choking her in public seems very…escalated.

    • bluhare says:

      Whether she chooses to leave him at this point or not, I hope she at least gets counseling.

      • Nanz says:

        Me too.

      • Liberty says:

        I hope so too. This is appalling, and his excuse makes me sick. What a smug, sick, pompous little bully. Clearly accustomed to getting away with everything.

  9. allons-y alonso says:

    There’s a very special place in hell for rotten pieces of offal like Charles Saatchi

  10. Tig says:

    I can believe the restaurant staff missed it as they were outside, and if no other customers alerted them.

    This may be the first time Nigella’s friends learned of just how vile her hubbie is. For her sake I hope she stays away- it is terrifying to think what he would do to her behind closed doors. I’m sure he already sending her messages that this is her “fault”- monster that he is.

  11. Vee says:

    Disgusting! She needs to gather up all her confidence and leave.
    And man who physically threatens a woman when they are angry is scum.
    Leave him!

  12. chria says:

    choking someone as a joke ISNT fun. it’s disgisting and sadistic. i think he’s a typical abuser with an excuse for all his actions and never takes responsibility for his actions. i hope she gets the help she needs and leave this pathetic POS. a REAL man doesnt lay his hand on a woman.

  13. Jacqueline says:

    He didn’t hit me! I ran into his fist!

  14. Joanna says:

    I honestly think there is more than meets the eye, and judgement should be reserved. It is awful to see someone’s private life so minutely analysed in the media. Also judging people by one action is just not right.

    • Hahahahaha says:

      THERE is MORE…like she is use to getting more (beat ups)sadly.

    • Eleonor says:

      According to witnesses they were having an argument. You don’t do something like that during an argument, end of story.
      If it was a playful thing why did she go away in tears ?

      • Elle says:

        Joanna, have you read the entire story? He accepted the police caution, in other words he admits he did something wrong. This was a public row, not private at all.
        I’m sure there is more to the story….more and worse abuse behind closed doors no doubt.

    • bluhare says:

      I definitely think there’s more than meets the eye in terms of their relationship. There always is. But there is absolutely NO excuse for his behavior to her unless she was attacking him, which she clearly was not. So while I acknowledge their relationship may be a difficult one, I do not acknowledge his right to throttle her.

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        Exactly what bluhare said.

        I’m a reasonable, objective person-I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. But even if we accept a scenario where Saatchi was “illustrating” something, say their kids got in a fight and one put their hand on the other’s throat, why would he need to do that FOUR times to make his point?

        Also, the fact that she was so submissive, and almost accepting of his hands wrapped around her neck, tells me that she has been through this with him before and she’s used to him treating her like this. If a man ever started to choke me as to simulate someone else getting choked or to illustrate a point, my immediate reaction would be to grab his hands and pull them off of me—I would at the very least flinch. If he did it a second time, I would get angry and tell him that he better not touch me again. If he did it a THIRD time, I would get up and leave and never speak to him again.

        I mean..this is not normal, loving behavior between two people who have a healthy marriage. There is something very very “off” here and it reeks of an abuser/abusee situation.

    • Ag says:

      “Judgment should be reserved”? Judgment on whom? Him? He’s a domestic abuser and should be thrown in jail. Her? She’s stuck in a domestic abuse cycle and needs help getting out. Before he maims or kills her.

      I’m European-American and this is, sadly, a very common European attitude. Hush, hush, this is an intimate, domestic matter, we shouldn’t get involved. F that. A man hitting (or otherwise abusing) a woman is a matter of public safety and health in which the police and the courts should get involved. And by-standers. And neighbors. We won’t eradicate the domestic violence plague with silence. F everyone who chooses to turn a blind eye to it.

    • Rumorhasit says:

      Truth is often in the eye of the beholder. I see an entitled, white male millionaire, caught dead to rights in a criminally abusive act, in broad daylight, IFO witnesses, with photographic evidence; getting off Scott free. Why did he do such a thing? Because he has ZERO fear of reprisals. He knows he can get away with it. And he did.

      • TheBadBrit says:

        Just for the record, Saatchi isn’t white. He and his brother were born in Baghdad and emigrated to the UK.

      • Drea says:

        @TheBadBrit: You do realize that Iraqi Arabs, Kurds, Jews, etc. are classified as white, right? He is white. Ethnicity and race are not the same thing.

    • mercyme says:

      It’s not just one act. He’s been seen putting his hand over her mouth, pinching her nose, and by his own admission repeatedly grabbing her neck to make his point. This guy is at the very least a bully. The fact he did it in public shows he sees nothing wrong with it. He deserves to be exposed. It’s a shame it took tabloid pics to do it. I would have preferred a police report.

      • Virgilia Coriolanus says:

        What I don’t get is why the press/media is saying that he “allegedly choked…”. There is no “alleged” anything, we can SEE the pictures of him choking her. There is no doubt that he was choking her, we have evidence of it. Wtf?

  15. Mi says:

    I really don’t think she is going to leave him.

    • BlackMamba says:

      Abuse or not it very hard to leave a long standing relationship like that when you feel like the person is like a second skin to you and you cannot imagine yourself without them. I don’t think she was planning on leaving either. She may now bacause we know the backlash victims can get when the don’t do the PC thing. The fact that she kissed him to calm him down is very telling, it says to me that this is a woman who is in an abusive relationship, have accepted it and is just trying to survive her abuser by being affectionate for example. I applaud any woman who manage to to get away from their abuser. It takes a lot of courage.

  16. marie says:

    the “playful tiff” is bullsh-t, he’s just trying to save face and it seems to have worked with the cops.

    I think the problem is unless she is ready to leave, she will go back. It’s hard enough breaking away when you’re ready, let alone forced. having said that, if she’s away now I hope she seeks counseling, and realizes she’s worth more than this. this whole thing is disgusting..

  17. amanda says:

    The pictures were horrifying. The few where she seems to be making direct eye contact with the photographer were especially sad.

  18. Tulip says:

    I think you’ll all agree that someone needs to get into a “playful tiff” with him and see how HE likes it.

    • Liberty says:

      I have it: Mike Tindall and Jason Statham and pals take this vile hopped-up Saatchi dude into an alley for a bottle and a chat.

  19. Mei says:

    If this is what happens in public, what likely goes on behind closed doors is beyond disturbing.

  20. Angelic 20 says:

    I really hopes she gets out of this marriage for her sake and for her children’s sake also. What sort of message she is sending to them about how one should treat or expect to be treated in a relationship? How this will make her son and daughter treat or expect abuse from their partners?

    Tolerating abuse in the privacy of your home is one thing but to be seen by millions and see yourself being treated like this and how horrified and humiliated you were is very different. I hope seeing herself in those photos led her to realise what a mess the situation is and how she deserves better. I really hope she is done with man for good but I am not holding my breath.

    I also hope that this behaviour of their parents won’t damage them or turn them into abusers or people who stay in abusive relationship like their mommy and think this kind of behaviour is acceptable but I know expecting this not realistic.

  21. AlmondJoy says:

    This man is a disgusting pig. My husband and I are VERY playful but he would NEVER put his hands around my neck. I feel so bad for her 🙁 Get out and stay out, Nigella!

  22. teehee says:

    She was terrified, she cried afterward— in my book, no one cries after a game.
    Nobody is fooled, except somehow the police– which I really dont understand. They ought to have more right and obligation to intervene when there is EVIDENCE of physical altercation, despite whatever “name” you give it. People should not be distracted by labelling it something else- physical danger is physical danger and that is a violation of personal rights!

    • decorative item says:

      They can’t do much if she is backing him up, and I don’t see her pressing charges.

      • Londerland says:

        Yup. Lovely as it would be if the police could just throw the book at him (a heavy book…but playfully, and just to emphasise their point), they can’t do anything if she doesn’t choose to press charges.

        Hopefully she’s gone somewhere with the kids and her friends and can get a little perspective and divorce his abusive, entitled, domineering ass, even if she doesn’t press charges.

        It’s one thing to suffer in silence and believe it when your abuser says you deserve it, you provoked him, he was only emphasising his point, etc, especially if you we’re abused in public and nobody raised any objection. But the whole world is watching now and saying, This is wrong, she needs to get out, it IS abuse. Maybe knowing that the world is on her side will give her the courage to get out. We can only hope.

    • Kimble says:

      It is NOT up to her to press charges – under UK law, if there is evidence of harm (bruising etc) then the police prosecute – just as they do here in the US.

      Yes,they have the pictures, but they know it would be tossed out of court if she is not showing any injury.

      This caution is a way of getting his abuse on record

  23. Ann says:

    Somebody needs to wait outside this old fools home and show him what it’s like to be on the other side of physical abuse. I SERIOUSLY would like to get him ready for the emergency room.

  24. Jayna says:

    Abusers never see themselves as abusers. He has no remorse and actually places the blame on her, how she was crying because of feeling bad they were fighting, not about the hand choking her. She will stay. The man has a lot of rage and God knows what he does behind closed doors. And the way he is so unsupportive of her career and puts her down. She deserves so much better, but I guess she thinks she doesn’t.

  25. TheyPromisedMeBeer says:

    I’m going to tell myself that this “official caution” Saatchi received went like: “Caution, now that the world sees what you are, you might wind up sleeping with the fishes if you try this again.”

    A little extreme, yes, but knowing that he probably won’t get what he deserves, it’s helping me cope a bit.

  26. Lizzie says:

    I knew he would basically get away with it. He is a multi millionaire with friends in high places. He probably used the old adage ‘Don’t you know who I am’.

  27. skipper says:

    I like being choked playfully (in the bedroom not publicly) but that looked pretty serious to me. I don’t think he was trying to kill her but he definitely tried to scare the crap out of her. It was abusive and she was obviously shaken about it. I feel so bad for her. She must be terrified of what he will do next.

  28. Greenieweenie says:

    I think it’s well established that the UK criminal justice system is a mess. 15 months for raping teenagers! “Warnings” for public wife beatings!

    Yeah, no.

  29. Greenieweenie says:

    I think it’s well established that the UK criminal justice system is a mess. 15 months for raping teenagers! “Warnings” for public wife beatings!

    Yeah, no.

  30. anneoneame says:

    They both need counseling, and they need to do this separately. I hope she can manage to stay away from him. There are court-mandated programs for abusive men to learn how to avoid violent and abusive behaviors and thought patterns. It isn’t easy, but I can’t believe that any human is too far gone for help or hope.

    As satisfying as it is to vilify and objectify abusive people just as much as they objectified and abused their victims, I can’t subscribe to an eye-for-an-eye form of justice.

    Is what they’re doing wrong? Absolutely. Should they be dragged through the mud and left to rot in jail? Abuse is a vicious cycle. Abused children can grow up to be abused adults. Or they can turn into abusive adults. I wish we could address the complexities of abuse without casting things in such black and white terms.

    • Jaded says:

      The great Saatchi would never sink so low as to go to counselling. Men like him never accept responsibility for their actions, they think they’re above the law because they are rich and powerful. To have a marriage counsellor give him advice on how stop being an aggressive, manipulative prick is tantamount to being perceived as a weak pussy. He’s been a bully all his life and will never change. Unless Nigella makes the decision to leave, he will continue hurting and humiliating her, he gets off on it.

    • mercyme says:

      I tend to agree with you about the complexities and abuse being a vicious cycle, as well as the solutions for it, but what to do about a person who makes it to age 70 and is still making excuses for, or minimizing, his controlling, abusive behaviour? If the law, nor his wife or people who witnessed it as it was going on want to hold him accountable, it’s pretty much left to public outrage.

      • anne o'neame says:

        I completely agree that a 70 year old man who happens to be Saatchi needs a bit of public outrage! I’m not sure it will do much but ensure that he shores up his self-justifications, though. Without the support of counseling, it is unlikely any of this will touch him in a meaningful way. Sad.

        As someone who learned to model abusive behavior as a child, and who is struggling daily to do better, I probably have a bit more empathy for him than most people do. But my heart really goes to Nigella, in the same way that I feel worse for my loved ones than for myself. If I were them, I would have left long ago. Their refusal to leave (or take any kind of action) both validates my behavior and makes me loathe myself. A vicious cycle, and so very hard to break without proper support.

      • mercyme says:

        @anne, I agree the public outrage probably won’t affect him personally. It may even make him dig in his heels more and dismiss it all as an overreaction by people who “don’t really know the situation.” But it’s probably the only thing that has a chance as it could affect his public reputation and maybe even his commercial interests.

        I save my sympathies and respect for people like you, who are honest with themselves, want to break the cycle, and have taken the intiative to do so.

        What you say about refusal to take action is why I’ve said the victims of abuse aren’t doing themselves OR their abusers any favours by trying to sweep it under the rug. They’re playing the part of the enabler which only ensures the cycle will continue.

  31. decorative item says:

    The stats show that it takes an average of 7 years for domestic abuse victims to leave the situation, if they leave at all.
    Abusers have a “type” and consciously, and/or subconsciously, they prey on that type.

  32. Joy says:

    His statement according to People magazine:

    “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 us all for months,” Saatchi told London’s Evening Standard.,,20709952,00.html

  33. gobo says:

    I’m really confused. How do you have a playful pretend choke in the middle of an actual argument.

  34. the original bellaluna says:

    I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Abuse is sneaky and insidious. A guy doesn’t just walk up and punch or choke you. He isolates you from your family, friends, etc…and then starts tearing you down emotionally – “No one but me could ever love someone like you” and the like.

    Once you’re properly broken (and isolated), the physical abuse starts.

    It takes arriving at a certain point (it may different for everyone) where you say “That’s enough!” and get out. But it’s HARD to escape.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Yep. Having been in an abusive relationship, this is entirely true. They’re not obviously abusive. As my friend said, “it’s not like they punch you in the face on the first date”. It can take months before they show any sign of aggression.

    • Joanna says:

      exactly. that’s what people dont understand. shes not leaving bc she was broken down mentally before the physical stuff started. so she doesnt have a normal sense of self-esteem, otherwise she would be like the posters on here, say eff it an leave.

  35. gogoGorilla says:

    I know this is terrible to say, but I bet she does not leave him unless her publicist/image demands it. As support: she didn’t leave until they knew the photos were coming out. So, I sort of hope that happens and that she gets the therapy she needs to overcome this.

  36. Theresa says:

    There have been many documented, alas mostly after something far more serious happens, cases of very powerful men abusing their spouses or children. It’s quite often the characteristics and traits that brought them success also make them more likely to be abusive.

    It doesn’t surprise me that he defended his actions the way he did, and it is very easy to assume that this behaviour is not exclusive to this incident, and will no doubt continue should Nigella stay with him.

    I worry that Nigella isn’t just going to act on commonsense, but based on the issue of her brand and public image. Does she want to try and re-invent herself as some domestic goddess that had to escape an abusive relationship or will she hope this “blows over” and she can continue to deceptively project an image of the perfect wife? I am sure she knows the score, but it still won’t be as easy to leave as we would hope. Yes, she has the means to look after herself, but this relationship was never about money. Yes, there is now publicity and attention being paid, but no doubt it will be spun, analyzed and parsed, by both sides, and the decision will most likely not be made based on what is best for both of them, but what is best for their public images.

    His ego will certainly make him think he can control this situation as much as he controls his wife. And sadly, he is probably right in thinking if they lay low enough, long enough, people will move on. Lingering resentment, yes. Public outcry long enough to drive him to change, no.

    I will be watching and wondering what happens next. But will not be surprised if nothing much happens, and within less than a month we are not even thinking about this. I guess not until someone is hurt much worse…

  37. Itsa Reallyme says:

    Get out, Nigella! Get out, please! I’m scared for you. Get as far from this “man” as you can and don’t allow him back.

    I’m completely disgusted by his excuses. What a piece of garbage.

  38. Ginger says:

    And this is why a holes like him get away with battery. He is obviously a threat to her. Utterly ridiculous for him to walk. I hope she gets a restraining order!

  39. Jazz Jazz says:

    Now she has evidence of the physical abuse when she divorces the old bat. I don’t know if there is community property in the UK when a couple divorces, but I hope she gets half his wealth. If she has lived for 10 years with this man and he treated her like this in public, you can imagine what he has done in private. Anybody think of asking his previous wives if they suffered abuse from him during their marriage?

  40. Nerd Alert says:

    Sooo, does anyone else think the “point” he was making went something like: “If you ever ____ again I will do this to you for real.” or “You make me so mad I want to…”

    If I were having a playful tiff with someone and their hand landed around my throat, my fist would land on their face.

    I just don’t see how a conversation goes in that direction. They were fighting. She was crying. His hand on her throat. She didn’t look like she was actually gasping, but it didn’t look okay either. At ALL.

  41. Lizzie says:

    I have watched a lot of her shows on the TV, and she makes some gorgeous looking food. Yet he has told her he would rather have a bowl of Weetabix (breakfast cereal) than eat any of her food. And that is just something we have heard about. He obviously has tried to wear down her confidence. Not a nice man at all

  42. ParisPucker says:

    this woman is no dummy. She went to Oxford and majored in medieval languages of all subjects! She ‘dabbled’ in cooking and look where it got her…nuff’ said. Plus, I think she’s gorgeous. So, here she is: this beautiful, talented, sensitive, thoroughly intelligent woman and this is how she gets treated. I hope she leaves him if this was as nefarious as it comes off. She may come from a privileged background but she hasn’t always had it easy. Her last husband died of throat cancer and Saatchi (co-founder of Saatchi & Saatchi) is a notorious recluse who is several decades older than her (he’s in his 70s now and I think she’s in her 50s) is a jew from Iraq (his family fled years ago to escape religious persecution). Can you tell I’m fascinated by this couple? She come from money but this guy is beyond loaded. I’ll be curious to see how this affects the family. Anyway, team Nigella. She doesn’t deserve this…

    • Haystacks says:

      It is a depressing reminder that money, education and fame cannot prevent or protect from spousal abuse….

  43. Gretchen says:

    Great bloody work legal system…a caution. These weren’t two strangers who got into a public altercation

  44. Jessiebes says:

    I have a slightly different opinion to the rest of you. He is awful, I agree with that.

    Nigella is a very strong and independent person. She would leave her husband as soon as, if he was physically abusive.

    I don’t think the neck grabbing, as awful as it is, was a sign of domestic abuse. I think it was a way of her husband showing her dominance over her.

    • skuddles says:

      Sorry but isn’t domestic abuse the ultimate show of dominance??

      • Jessiebes says:

        Yes of course.

        What I meant is, I do think he is an abuser and wants to dominate her. I just don’t necessarily think he physically hurts her at home. As for emotional abuse, I definately think that is going on.

  45. Gretchen says:

    Great bloody work legal system…a caution. These weren’t two strangers who got into a public altercation and will probably never see each other again after the legal process has finished, they’re spouses and if shit like this going down in public, it is just the tip of the iceberg of what goes on behind closed doors.

    The Evening Standard newspaper was the first to publish this turd’s ridiculous excuses, it also happens to be the newspaper he writes columns for. If he will suffer no legal repercussions for his behaviour, he should (at the very f*cking least) suffer some social repercussions.

    I think it is time to start writing to the Evening Standard to have him removed as one of their contributors. It won’t make a dent in his wallet, but abusers hate public shaming they can’t charm their way out of.

  46. Bored suburbanhousewife says:

    The nature of their relationship is actually relatively well known. She describes him as an “exploder”. Her strategy is to “go quiet”. Neighbors report hearing raging quarrels & describe the relationship as “volatile” and reflects the “passionate” nature of the relationship. It’s all euphemisms for an abusive rerlatnsh.

    I love Nigella but I agree with some of the pre us commenters she will probably stay with the nasty old bastard.

  47. TheOriginalWaffle says:

    “nonsensical advice?”

  48. Another K says:

    What goes around comes around, Mr. Saatchi. And Karma is certainly not your friend.

    Stay strong, Nigella!

  49. xxx says:

    My best friend is a strong, highly intelligent, independent, beautiful girl. She has always been the one with “the power” in her relationships. And yet… A few years ago she moved overseas with her long-term boyfriend for his job. Once they got over there, he gradually devalued her. He started in with mental and emotional abuse, then gradually worked his way up to physical abuse. She was away from her support base of family and friends and she got sucked into this. The thing is, she knew the relationship was unhealthy and awful, she knew what he was doing was wrong, she knew she could walk away and be okay, and she was so inexplicably trapped that in the end he actually had to tell her to leave. Once she did, and got into some serious therapy back home, she couldn’t believe she’d ever stayed. She couldn’t believe she hadn’t walked away of her own volition. She was so under his thumb that she couldn’t even do that without him telling her to.

    I feel like Saatchi’s statement is telling. I believe that he probably did tell Nigella to go. I only hope that with some space and time apart, and with a strong support network, that she wakes up from the nightmare, and gets the courage to stay away.

    His statement about grabbing her throat to make a point is disturbing. He actually thinks that’s justified. If you were demonstrating feeling choked up or trapped, you’d demonstrate on yourself. Therefore the only point he was proving was a “what happens if you disagree with me” point. You don’t prove points with violence.

  50. Haystacks says:

    If he had choked a stranger he would be facing charges, but it is just fine to choke your wife?

    You win this round, misogyny.

  51. Lisa says:

    Um, this is bullshit. She was IN PUBLIC, and there is documented evidence. What more do they want, a corpse? It’s disgusting and dangerous to let him off with a warning.

  52. skuddles says:

    He’s 70? Sweetie, you can totally take that old fart. Next time he “playfully” chokes you, get yourself a nice grip on his wrinkled old balls – and don’t stop squashing them until he cries. Then be sure to make him release a statement after saying it was all in “fun”.

  53. Daniel says:

    Unfortunately unless she presses charges (which will never happen), this will continue. I wonder what it will take, a black eye, a bruised neckline? Her hospitalization. His death from when she shoots him with a gun in his sleep? If I was her friend I would tell her to just kill the b*st*rd (hire a hit-man) and take his money.

  54. T says:

    It’s ironic that we’re capable of finding so much sympathy for Nigella for not leaving, yet women on this forum have been calling rihanna a “dumbass” and a “slut” and “whore” “idiot” for not leaving Chris Brown. Unless you’ve been in a domestic abuse situation, you won’t know that it is hard to leave for anyone–hence the statistic of the victims going back to the abuser 8 or 9 times average. I feel bad for all the women out there who are unable to get away from an abusive relationship, and I truly hope they all do.