Nigella Lawson, Charles Saatchi


Many have seen (and been subsequently shocked by) the now-infamous Nigella Lawson choking photos taken over the summer, and now the photographer who snapped the shots is painting a picture behind the images.

The self-proclaimed paparazzo who snapped the shots of Charles Saatchi allegedly grabbing his then-wife's throat at Scott's restaurant in London on June 9 opened up to Vanity Fair in the publication's February issue, describing exactly what he witnessed firsthand.

"I saw her lurch violently backwards. I thought Charles was demonstrating something," the photographer, who only identifies himself as "Jean Paul" tells V.F. "It lasted about 30 seconds. Then he did it a second time, and it was so violent, with such force, that her head snapped backwards...I was taking pictures the whole time." 

NEWS: The 5 biggest revelations from Nigella's testimony

Nigella Lawson, Isleworth Crown Court, London, England

Mirrorpix / Splash News

Vanity Fair reports that Jean Paul took nearly 1,000 photographs at the restaurant over a period of about 27 minutes. The headline-making images led Saatchi to be slapped with a caution for assault from British police, and the pair later divorced.

Sources close to Saatchi tell V.F. that the argument centered on Nigella's daughter, Mimi, who had just secured an internship at The Economist. Lawson wanted her daughter to attend a university, while Charles believed she should focus on her career opportunity instead of her studies. According to the report, Lawson excused herself from the table, and when she returned, she was "unable to focus," so Saatchi was "holding [her] neck trying to get her attention," saying, 'Listen to me. I feel very passionate about this. I think it's great they love her at The Economist.'"

However, the celebrity chef told a different tale when she testified in court during the fraud trial of now-divorced duo's former assistants, Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo.

Nigella Lawson

Neil Mockford/FilmMagic

During her testimony, Lawson said "Charles told everyone that he was taking cocaine out of my nose...What actually happened was that somebody walked by with a very cute baby in a stroller and I said, 'I am so looking forward to having grandchildren.' And he grabbed me by the throat and said, 'I am the only person you should be concerned with—I am the only person who should be giving you pleasure.'"

The Grillo sisters also shared their side of the story while testifying during the trial, with Francesca claiming during her testimony that she believed the former couple was fighting over Nigella's alleged drug use at the restaurant in Mayfair. (Nigella confessed to using cocaine only once during her 10-year marriage to Saatchi in court.)

"The picture which stuck in my mind was Charles picking her nose. I thought maybe he had the same problem I had, he found some remains inside her nose relating to drugs and I thought maybe if he didn't know that maybe he didn't know that she authorised all the spending," Francesca said in defense of the allegations that she and her sister defrauded Lawson and her ex-husband out of more than £300,000 ($484,600) while under their employment.

NEWS: Five things to know about Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi

Nigella Lawson, Charles Saatchi

Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

The Grillo sisters were acquitted of the fraud charges and police chose not to investigate Lawson's purported drug use (the domestic goddess also admitted to smoking cannabis to deal with her "intolerable" marriage to Saatchi).

During an appearance on Good Morning America on Thursday, Jan. 2, Lawson said that having "distortions of [her] private life put on display" during the trial was "mortifying," but the 53-year-old chef insists she's not going to dwell on the past.

And the new year includes a prime-time slot, as Lawson is currently a judge alongside Anthony Bourdain, Ludo Lefebvre and Marcus Samuelsson on season two of The Taste, which airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on ABC. 

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