U.K. police caution Charles Saatchi for assault on wife Nigella Lawson at London restaurant

Nigella Lawson meets fans and signs copies of her book "Nigellissima" at Waterstones Canary Wharf on Oct. 24, 2012, in London. Tim Whitby/Getty Images

LONDON Prominent art collector Charles Saatchi has accepted a police caution for assault after grasping the throat of his wife, celebrity chef Nigella Lawson.

Tabloid newspapers this week published photos of the incident, which happened more than a week ago in a posh London restaurant.

In British law, police can issue a caution in some cases where a suspect admits an offense.

A caution is a formal warning given to someone who admits a minor offense. It carries no penalty, but it can be used as evidence of bad character if a person is later prosecuted for a different crime.

Police said Tuesday no further action is expected once a caution has been accepted.

The 70-year-old Saatchi had earlier characterized the incident as a "playful tiff" during an intense debate about their children.

"The paparazzi were congregated outside our house after the story broke yesterday morning, so I told Nigella to take the kids off till the dust settled."

Lawson's spokesman has confirmed that she left the family home with her children after the photos were published. She is a well-known TV presenter and chef whose cookbooks are extremely popular.

Lawson, 53, gained fame with her 1998 best-seller "How To Eat" and subsequent "How to Be a Domestic Goddess" (2000) and is one of Britain's best-known cookbook writers, as well as the host of foodie TV shows including "Nigella Bites" and ABC's cooking program "The Taste."

Lawson is also one of the few British food personalities to have had real success in the United States, both on television and with her cookbooks. She has often made the point that she is not a trained chef, but is simply showing people what they can do in their own kitchens. She is known for her sensual style on television, once calling her shows "gastroporn."

Lawson is also known for her refreshing frankness. In January of this year, she made news for insisting that her belly not be airbrushed out of promotional photos of her for her show, "The Taste," on ABC.

"That tum is the truth and is come by honestly, as my granny would have said," she wrote in a blog post.

Saatchi, co-founder of the Saatchi & Saatchi ad agency, owns one of London's biggest private art galleries. He was the main patron of the Young British Artists movement of the 1990s, which made household names of artists including Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.

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