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Clegg 'Not Sure' He'd Intervene In Nigella Attack

Thursday 20th June 2013

Nick Clegg has admitted he doesn't know whether he would have intervened if he saw the incident involving Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson at a London restaurant last week.

The Deputy Prime Minister said he doesn't know the full story and perhaps it might have been a "fleeting thing".

Pictures of the incident on 9th June appear to show Saatchi's hands around the chef's throat.

Nick Clegg was asked by caller Elizabeth on his weekly LBC 97.3 show Call Clegg how he would have reacted if he had been there.

"What a difficult question. I find it so difficult to imagine... I don't know what happened, I'm like you, I don't know what happened," he answered.

"When you see a couple having an argument, most people just assume that the couple will resolve it themselves. If, of course, something descends into outright violence that is something different.

"I just don't know, there was this one photograph, I don't know whether that was a fleeting thing. I'm really sorry Elizabeth, I am at a loss to put myself into that position without knowing exactly [what happened].

"You are asking me to comment on photographs everybody has seen in the papers - we don't know if that was a fleeting moment so I'd rather not comment on a set of events that I wasn't."

The photographs which surfaced this week show Saatchi tweeking Nigella Lawson's nose, one with his hand on her neck and one of him with both hands around her neck.

The 70 year old later claimed that it was just a 'playfull tiff'.

"The pictures are horrific, but give a far more drastic and violent impression of what took place," he told the Standard adding that he was just emphasising a point and there was no "grip".

Since his Call Clegg comments, the Lib Dem leader has released a statement saying: "I completely condemn all forms of domestic violence. As I said on the radio, my instinct would always be to try and protect the weaker person, to try and protect the person who otherwise would be hurt

"I was asked a very specific question about how I would have reacted to a specific incident which I did not see. I said I did not know how I would have reacted to that specific incident because I do not know what happened. The point I was making is that I don't know what other people in the restaurant saw and I don't want to make a judgment on their reaction." 

He has accepted a police caution over the incident after voluntarily attending a police station even though Nigella has not made an official complaint.

Bernard Jacobson, a gallery owner and a friend of Mr Saatchi, told Sky News he believes the photographs have been "taken out of context".

Mr Clegg said that he knows how he would react in a more general incident of this kind.

"Let's say if a man who is much stronger than the woman is physically threatening the woman then I hope everybodies' instincts will be to protect the weaker person, to protect the person who is likely to be hurt.

"Trying to reimagine how you might react to very specific events which still are not entirely clear, that is the bit that I feel it is difficult to now comment."