Charles Saatchi: Nigella Lawson and I to divorce

By Caroline Davies The Guardian Updated at 2013-07-08 07:04:30 +0000


The very public disintegration of the marriage of Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson continued on Sunday when the multimillionaire art collector issued a statement to a newspaper saying he was divorcing the TV chef.

Former advertising executive Saatchi, 70, who accepted a police caution after photographs were published showing him with his hand around his wife's neck during a row outside Scott's restaurant, Mayfair, on 16 June, told the Mail on Sunday: "I am sorry to announce that Nigella Lawson and I are getting divorced.

"This is heartbreaking for both of us as our love was very deep, but in the last year we have become estranged and drifted apart. I feel that I have clearly been a disappointment to Nigella during the last year or so, and I am disappointed that she was advised to make no public comment to explain that I abhor violence of any kind against women, and have never abused her physically in any way."

He said his hands were around her neck, but no pressure was applied; it was a gesture to hold her attention, and "could equally have been Nigella grasping my neck to hold my attention – as she has done in the past, although not in front of Scott's with a photographer snapping away". The still photograph gives a "wholly different and incorrect implication", his statement said, and Lawson had given a statement to the police to support this view. Lawson left the couple's home in Chelsea shortly after the incident and, reportedly, has been refusing to answer texts and voicemails from her husband.

Saatchi added: "I am sorry that we had a row. I am sorry that she was upset. I am even more sorry that this is the end of our marriage."

Saatchi, who married Lawson, his third wife, 10 years ago following the death of her first husband, John Diamond, 47, from throat cancer in 2001, wished her the best for the future and "her continuing global success" and said he felt "very fortunate to have had such a lovely wife for many years".

As Saatchi was vilified as a wife-beater, and Lawson portrayed as a victim of domestic violence, he voluntarily went to Charing Cross police station and accept a police caution. He later made an ill-judged comment to the London Evening Standard, where he is a columnist, describing the incident as a "playful tiff" and that he had accepted the caution to prevent the incident "hanging over them".

Lawson had subsequently been pictured without her wedding ring.

The Mail on Sunday said Lawson, 53, was not aware pre-publication "of the divorce ultimatum being issued by her husband". Later, Lawson's spokesman said there was no comment from her.