Charles Saatchi Confesses to Nigella Lawson Assault

Nigella Lawson Charles Saatchi - P 2012
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Nigella Lawson Charles Saatchi - P 2012

The ad mogul avoids formal charges after admitting to grabbing the TV chef by the throat at a London restaurant earlier this month.

The husband of Nigella Lawson has admitted to assaulting the celebrity chef during a violent encounter at a London restaurant earlier this month.

Charles Saatchi was photographed squeezing Lawson's neck while she winced in an apparent struggle to break free from his clutch. She left the scene in tears; the unsettling images surfaced on the web over the weekend, stirring outrage and prompting British police to probe the incident.

The 70-year-old Saatchi, a U.K.-based advertising mogul and art collector, voluntarily met with police for four hours of questioning on Monday, receiving a "caution" after copping to the assault -- and thereby avoiding formal charges, the Daily Telegraph reports.

STORY: Nigella Lawson's Husband Charles Saatchi: 5 Things to Know

"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," he said in an interview with the London Evening Standard.

Earlier, he had defended his actions, telling the paper: "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 couple were married in September 2003. Lawson, 53, was previously wed to journalist John Diamond, who died of throat cancer in 2001.

Famous for her best-selling cookbooks and TV series airing on the BBC (and Food Network in the U.S.), Lawson stars as a judge on the ABC reality show The Taste, which was recently renewed for a second season. She has been promoting her new book, Nigellissima, which arrived in February.