Nigella Lawson, the celebrity chef and The Taste host, was photographed eating outside at a restaurant with the hand of her husband Charles Saatchi, clenched around her throat.

Lawson, 53, in pictures taken by UK newspaper The Mirror, appears frightened and tearful across the table from the art and advertising mogul Saatchi, 70. The series of photographs show Lawson with a hand gripped around her throat and scared eyes, her nose pinched while she winces and standing outside the restaurant holding back tears.

Fellow diners at Scott’s in the Mayfair district of London noticed the hostile interaction between the married pair, and couldn’t believe what they were witnessing. "It was utterly shocking to watch," one patron told The Mirror. "I have no doubt she was scared. It was horrific, really. She was very tearful and was constantly dabbing her eyes."

Saatchi broke the couple’s silence on the incident in an exclusive with The London Evening Standard, the paper for which he writes a column. “It was a playful tiff,” he said in his own defense. “The pictures are horrific but give a far more drastic and violent impression of what took place.”

British police are reportedly looking into the incident caught on camera at Scott’s, although no official criminal complaint has been made, reported Fox News.

Lawson and Saatchi have been married since September 2003. Lawson had previously been married to journalist John Diamond, with whom she had two children, who predeceased her in 2001 after a battle with throat cancer.

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