Photos of a distraught-looking Nigella Lawson with what appears to be her husband's hands wrapped tightly around her neck ran in this week's Sunday Paper under the truly classless headline "Arti-choked." According to the British weekly, Lawson and her art collector husband Charles Saatchi were having lunch at Scott's restaurant in London when things became tense between them: "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." There are also photos of a tearful Lawson leaving the restaurant.
Saatchi, 70, told the London Evening Standard that "it was just a playful tiff" and that the couple had made up by the time they got home. Lawson's spokespeople have denied to comment on the incident just yet, but according to the Daily Mail she is not currently staying at the house she shares with her husband. The full statement from Saatchi in the Standard reads:
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.
Lawson has not filed a formal complaint, but a spokesperson for Scotland Yard told the Telegraph, "Enquires are in hand to establish the facts of the incident."
Scott's restaurant — which is apparently "a popular haunt for celebrities including Pippa Middleton, Jeremy Clarkson and Simon Cowell" according to the Mirror — issued the following comment: "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." The Mirror notes no one intervened during the argument.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail is full of rumors that the couple have a "volatile" relationship yet notes "that could just be their form of passion." They will have been married ten years in September.
Update 06/18: Nigella Lawson's Husband Admits to Restaurant Assault