Saatchi: Why I held Nigella by the throat
Charles Saatchi has spoken for the first time about the infamous Nigella Lawson throat grab incident, while also claiming to have no knowledge of his ex-wife ever taking drugs.
Saatchi has told a court he was only holding his ex-wife by the throat "to make her focus", the Daily Telegraph reports.
Saatchi said he did not "throttle" the television chef when he was photographed with his hands around her neck as they argued at Scott's restaurant in Mayfair, central London, in June.
Saatchi was testifying at the fraud trial of two former personal assistants, who are accused of spending the former couple's money on luxury goods. They deny wrongdoing.
The incident, which was widely reported, led to the couple divorcing. Saatchi spoke of his heartbreak at the split, saying he still "adored" his ex-wife and was "utterly bereft" that details of her alleged drug use had been publicised.
Anthony Metzer QC, representing Miss Lawson's former aide Elisabetta Grillo, introduced the subject of the couple's restaurant bust-up
Saatchi said: "Let me just, while I've got the chance - I accepted the caution for assault. I was not gripping, strangling or throttling her. I was holding her head by the neck to make her focus. I wanted her to focus on what we were speaking about."
Asked what the row was about, he said: "Her drug use? No."
When asked if he believed allegations Lawson was so high she allowed the assistants to spend freely, Saatchi told the court "not for a second".
The art baron said it was a "terrible mistake" that an email he'd sent Lawson claiming she was on drugs was made public in court.
Saatchi says he has "never, never seen any evidence of Nigella taking any drug whatsoever".
Saatchi listened as the email he sent to Lawson on October 10 was read out to jurors.
In it he referred to his ex-wife as "Higella" at one point.
He wrote: "Nigella, I was sent these by a newspaper and I can only laugh at your sorry depravity.
"Of course now the Grillos will get off on the basis that you ... were so off your heads on drugs that you allowed the sisters to spend whatever they liked and yes I believe every word theGrillos have said, who after all only stole money."
The email went on: "But I'm sure it was all great fun and now everything is perfect - bravo, you have become a celebrity hostess on a global TV game show. And you got the Pass you desired, free to heartily enjoy all the drugs you want, forever. Classy."
Italian sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo are accused of using credit cards loaned to them by the celebrity couple to spend more than STG685,000 ($NZ1.3 million) on themselves.
Lawson is expected to testify on Wednesday.