LONDON (Reuters) - Multi-millionaire art collector Charles Saatchi said on Sunday he would divorce celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, citing his “disappointment” that she had not defended him after photographs of him grabbing her neck during a row caused a public outcry.
Lawson, 53, is hugely popular in Britain for her television cooking shows, which she presents in her trademark flirtatious manner, and line of cookbooks. She is also widely known in the United States, Australia and other English-speaking countries.
“I feel that I have clearly been a disappointment to Nigella during the last year or so,” the 70-year-old former advertising tycoon told The Mail on Sunday newspaper.
“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.”
In June, a tabloid newspaper published photographs of Saatchi with his hand around his wife’s neck, with her in tears, while they were having dinner on the terrace of a seafood restaurant in London’s upmarket Mayfair.
Saatchi attempted to downplay the photos, saying they depicted a “playful tiff” with his wife of 10 years, but Lawson, the daughter of former British finance minister Nigel Lawson, moved out of the family home soon afterwards and has not made a public commented on the incident.
Saatchi accepted a police caution for assault after the row but groups campaigning against domestic abuse and violence against women have complained over the lack of action taken against him.
Lawson married Saatchi in 2003 after her first husband, journalist John Diamond, died of throat cancer. She has two teenage children, Cosima and Bruno, from her first marriage.
Saatchi ran the world’s largest advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi with his brother in the 1980s.
Reporting by William James; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky