Charles Saatchi has admitted assaulting his wife Nigella Lawson, and accepted a police caution after a five-hour interrogation at a central London police station.
This morning, Tuesday, he told the newspaper for which he writes, The Evening Standard: "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."
His admission of assault came yesterday, after a day in which the multi-millionaire art dealer provoked outrage when he attempted to dismiss the incident as a 'playful tiff'.
However, friends of the couple have told The Daily Beast that Lawson has been left distraught and terrified due to Saatchi’s constant violent bullying, and that Saatchi is jealous of Nigella’s continuing success and fame—a success that has come just as as his own star has dimmed.
The distressing incident, which reportedly left Nigella in tears, lends credence to those who say that the increasingly reclusive Saatchi, who recently turned 70, has become violently jealous of his wife’s successful career. Having conquered the U.K. with her TV shows and cookery books, Nigella has now turned her attention to the U.S., where her appearance as a judge on ABC’s The Taste received positive reviews.
Since her debut cookbook, How to Eat, was published in 1998 and sold over 300,000 copies, Nigella has rarely been out of the bestseller lists. Literary success has led to a string of high-profile TV shows, and Nigella is a cultural phenomenon, famed for her flirtatious style of presenting.
The Daily Mirror, which first ran the shocking pictures of Saatchi grabbing his wife by the throat, reports in today's paper that Saatchi attended Charing Cross Police Station in Central London, where he was quizzed for five hours yesterday. A Met spokesman said: “Officers from the Community Safety Unit at Westminster were aware of the Sunday People article which was published on 16 June and carried out an investigation. This afternoon a 70-year-old man voluntarily attended a Central London police station and accepted a caution for assault.”
Saatchi, 70, will doubtless be hoping that by accepting a caution - an official slap on the wrist that carries no penalty and is often dished out for minor offenses - he will be able to draw a line under the incident.
However, the fact that Saatchi has now publicly accepted that he did indeed assault his wife will increase pressure on Lawson, a role model to millions of British women whose most famous book is entitled "How to be a Domestic Goddess", to make a statement herself.
Saatchi's admission of guilt comes after he provoked outrage by telling a reporter from the London Evening Standard on Monday that the violent attack was just a "playful tiff" and that "Nigella’s tears were because we both hate arguing, not because she had been hurt."
Spokespeople for UK domestic violence charities slammed Saatchi's comments, saying they were typical of the way perpetrators of domestic abuse seek to minimize and down play their behavior.
Nigella left the family home in Chelsea on Sunday, after the pictures were published, supported by her 17-year-old son Bruno.
A spokesperson for the TV chef and author said: “We haven’t issued any statements or comment from Nigella other than to confirm that she has moved out of the family home. We haven’t added anything beyond that and do not plan to do so.”