Billionaire Charles Saatchi was last night widely condemned after distressing images emerged apparently showing him choking his wife Nigella Lawson during a row in a restaurant.
The pictures, printed on the front page of the Sunday People, appear to show the couple embroiled in a major dispute as they sit outside Scott’s in Mayfair.
On four occasions, Mr Saatchi, 70, appears to reach over and grab TV chef Nigella around the throat. The 53-year-old looks terrified throughout the ordeal and left in floods of tears.
Last night, the pictures prompted a storm of condemnation on Twitter.
One tweeted: ‘How arrogant of Charles Saatchi to abuse his wife in a public place and get away with it. Shame on all the diners near them.’
Another said: ‘Absolutely horrified at the Nigella Lawson story. Heartbreaking with shocking images.’
‘Horrifying picture of Nigella Lawson. Her husband is ridiculous. It’s so very sad and domestic abuse isn’t a joke,’ said another.
Although other diners were present during the incident, none intervened.
‘It was utterly shocking to watch,’ one onlooker told the Sunday People. ‘I have no doubt she was scared. It was horrific, really.’
It is understood to have occurred towards the end of their meal at the seafood restaurant, a favourite haunt of celebrities including Pippa Middleton, Jeremy Clarkson and Simon Cowell.
Art collector Charles Saatchi is pictured using first his left hand, then both, to grab his wife around the neck as she looks extremely upset.
Twice she tried to move back in apparent fear.
The incident could clearly be seen by other customers and passers-by in the busy street. But although some looked shocked, no one made moves to intervene.
The couple are due to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary in September.
Last night neither Charles Saatchi nor Nigella Lawson responded to a request for comment.