Charles Saatchi, millionaire husband of Nigella Lawson, has played down the horrific photographs of him strangling his wife in public as a "playfull tiff".
Mr Saatchi, a household name for discovering young British artists such as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, has admitted the pictures, published in the Sunday People, look "horrific", but denied "gripping" his wife's throat.
He told the Evening Standard, where he is a columnist: "About a week ago, we were sitting outside a restaurant having an intense debate about the children, and I held Nigella's neck repeatedly while attempting to emphasize my point.
"There was no grip, it was a playful tiff."
"The pictures are horrific but give a far more drastic and violent impression of what took place. Nigella's tears were because we both hate arguing, not because she had been hurt."
During the 27 minute episode which took place at Scott's Restaurant in London he also tweaked her nose several times. To which he has responded: ‘Even domestic goddesses sometimes have a bit of snot in their nose. I was trying to fish it out.’
Nigella Lawson has since been seen in public without her wedding ring. The celebrity chef has made no comment on the incident.