Nigella Lawson, the self-styled domestic goddess, discovered that her ten-year marriage to the advertising guru Charles Saatchi was over on Sunday after he issued a statement to the press.
Just four weeks after photographs were published showing Saatchi with his hand around her throat, the 70-year-old art collector announced that he was divorcing her. He disclosed that he had taken the "heartbreaking" decision to end their marriage partly because she had failed to back him publicly over the row.
Saatchi, who accepted a police caution for assault following the incident, said: "I feel I have clearly been a disappointment to Nigella during the last year or so and 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."
Friends of the couple say they have not communicated since she left their home the day after their row hit the headlines. The couple are not thought to have signed a prenuptial agreement before their low-key marriage in 2003. Saatchi is thought to be worth around 130 million pounds, while Lawson is worth at least 20 million pounds, thanks to her television and cookery career, which included the bestselling book How To Be a Domestic Goddess. (She has suggested the title is ironic, saying she is "messy" at home.)
It is not yet clear whether the couple will lock horns over the division of Saatchi's considerable assets. If so, Lawson could call on the services of her cousin Fiona Shackleton, the celebrated divorce lawyer, who represented Prince Charles during his divorce from Diana, Princess of Wales.
Lawson moved out of the couple's 14 million pounds Chelsea home the day after photographs were published showing the pair rowing while they sat outside Scott's Restaurant in Mayfair.
In one Saatchi could be seen with his hand around his wife's throat and in another he was grasping her nose. The photographer who witnessed the incident said the row lasted almost half an hour and afterwards Lawson was pictured in tears.
The following day Saatchi voluntarily attended Charing Cross police station where he accepted a police caution for assault. But he later issued a statement claiming the incident had been nothing more than a "playful tiff" and that he had accepted the police caution to avoid having the issue "hanging over" the couple. He has now claimed that, rather than a tiff, the pair had been arguing over the future of Lawson's 19-year-old daughter, Cosima, from her first marriage to the late journalist John Diamond.
He said things became heated after he disagreed with his wife's suggestion that Cosima should go to Oxford rather than continue working at The Economist.
Yesterday, in a further attempt to explain the circumstances of the alleged assault, Saatchi insisted: "I must stress again my actions were not violent. We are instinctively tactile people. Yes, my hands were around her neck and they had been touching her arm.
"Difficult as it may be to believe, for those who have seen the pictures, there was no pressure applied to her. In fact it was merely a gesture - one to which a still photograph gives a wholly different and incorrect implication." Saatchi also said that it was he who had suggested his wife move out of their marital home following the row. He claimed her PR manager had demanded he make a public apology and admit he was "ashamed" over his behaviour. He said when he refused they had a row and he told her to "pack her bags and go".
Saatchi's statement concluded: "I am sorry that we had a row. I am sorry she was upset. I am even more sorry this is the end of our marriage. "She remains the most wonderful woman in the world." T