In a development that has some observers convinced that he got off too easy, ad executive and noted art collector Charles Saatchi got off with a warning from British police after being photographed grabbing his wife, celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, by the throat, Reuters reports.
The incident has sparked a debate in Britain over domestic violence, the report notes.
“Photographs of Saatchi, 70, a former advertising tycoon, grasping a tearful Lawson around the neck while the couple were having dinner outside a London restaurant about a week ago were published in a tabloid newspaper on Sunday,” Reuters reports. “On Monday he downplayed the images, saying it was just a ‘playful tiff’ and he was holding her neck to make his point, sparking fury from women’s rights group. He said the couple made up although Lawson had moved out while ‘the dust settled.’”
A spokesman for London’s Metropolitan Police is quoted in the story saying today: "Yesterday afternoon, Monday June 17, a 70-year-old man voluntarily attended a central London police station and accepted a caution for assault. That would normally be the end of the matter."
Reuters notes: “Under English law, a caution can be given to an adult who admits a minor offense and this is not a criminal conviction but can be used as evidence of bad character in court for another crime. The suspect can be arrested or charged if they do not agree to be cautioned.
“Lawson, 53, dubbed the domestic goddess after the title of one of her cook books and known for her flirtatious kitchen manner, has made no public comment on the incident that happened outside a seafood restaurant in upmarket Mayfair on June 9.”
The incident and the response by British authorities sparked an outcry online and in the print media, with observers criticizing both Saatchi’s behavior and the lack of action against him.
“Saatchi told London’s Evening Standard, for which he writes a column, that he recognized the impact of the pictures but said they conveyed the wrong impression,” the story notes.
Saatchi told 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.”
Saatchi, who along with his brother ran Saatchi & Saatchi — the world’s largest advertising agency — in the 1980s, added: "Nigella’s tears were because we both hate arguing, not because she had been hurt."