14/08/2014 12:51 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Daggers Drawn As Charles Saatchi Says He Wants To Divorce Nigella Lawson

Daggers drawn as Charles Saatchi says he wants to divorce Nigella

Daggers have not only been drawn, but over the weekend they have been thrust and twisted into the twitching corpse of Nigella Lawson's and Charles Saatchi's marriage. Shakespeare himself would have been hard pushed to write such a tragedy.

On Sunday, art collector Mr Saatchi told the Mail on Sunday – before he's even told Ms Lawson - that he is divorcing the TV chef following the infamous paparazzi photographs of him squeezing his wife's throat outside a restaurant.

Charles, 70, who accepted a police caution for assault, told the newspaper he had 'clearly been a disappointment' to his wife and that his decision to divorce her was 'heartbreaking' decision for him.

Charles said: "I feel that 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.

"I am sorry that we had a row. I am sorry she was upset. I am even more sorry that this is the end of our marriage."

But the tone of Charles's statement had friends in Nigella's camp spitting feathers, accusing him of 'cruelty' for the way he had announced his plans to divorce and expressing concern about emotional damage to their children.

The couple were together raising her teenagers, Cosima, 19, and Bruno, 17, from her marriage to the late writer John Diamond, and Saatchi's daughter, Phoebe, 18, from his second marriage.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, Nigella, 53, was left reeling by her husband's divorce announcement.

Friends said she was willing right up until the end to give the union another chance and has been left 'floored' and 'blindsided' by his actions.

There will now follow a legal battle over the couple's assets, which are estimated at around £150million, and include their £12million home in Chelsea.

According to the newspaper, one friend said: "The cruelty of it takes your breath away. Nigella is devastated."

The advertising tycoon defended himself, saying the photos of him grabbing his wife's neck had misrepresented the truth.

He said: "This is heartbreaking for both of us as our love was very deep, but in the last year we have become estranged and drifted apart... The row photographed at Scott's restaurant could equally have been Nigella grasping my neck to hold my attention – as indeed she has done in the past."

Charles accepted a caution for assault but claimed that he was wiping Miss Lawson's nose when he was pictured sticking a finger in her nostril during the heated row.

He initially described the incident as a 'playful tiff', claiming that he had held her neck repeatedly to 'emphasise my point' while the couple discussed their children.

However, he later voluntarily went to Charing Cross police station, saying that he did this to avoid having the incident 'hanging over all of us for months'.

Nigella, moved out of the marital home in Chelsea, West London, a week after the incident and is temporarily staying in a rented apartment in an exclusive private members' club in Mayfair.

She has since been seen in public without her wedding ring, but has so far made no comment about the incident because, say her friends, she wants to protect the children.

They said she takes great issue with his account of the reasons for the split.

While Charles says that in the three weeks since she left their home she has not returned his calls, Nigella's friends say that the precise opposite is true.

And they said that Charles had not apologised at any point for his actions.

Whatever the truth of the matter, it's clear to us that there is a breakdown of communication between the couple.