The TV cook looked visibly distressed in photos taken at Scott's Of Mayfair

Nigella Lawson was seen leaving her and husband Charles Saatchi‘s £12 million home with a suitcase yesterday.

The TV cook, 53, was joined by her son Bruno, 17, the same day photos emerged of Charles, 70, grabbing her neck outside their favourite restaurant Scott’s Of Mayfair.

Nigella looked visibly upset as Charles wrapped his hands around her throat four times in pictures taken on 9 June – Charles‘s birthday.

He also tweaked her nose and used both wrists to push her face.

Afterwards, Nigella wiped her eyes with a napkin and tried to calm Charles down before leaning over the table and kissing his cheek.

But Charles marched off from the table and Nigella followed in tears.

Art collector Charles left his and Nigella‘s converted warehouse in a taxi 90 minutes before his wife yesterday and both refused to comment on the shocking snaps.

Metropolitan Police say Nigella hasn’t made an official complaint but that they are ‘aware’ of the images and ‘inquiries are in hand to establish the facts of the incident’.

Nigella – who wed Charles in 2003 – has children Bruno and Cosima, 19, with late husband John Diamond while Charles has been married twice before.

Charles Saatchi has now told the Evening Standard: ‘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 emphasise 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.

‘We had made up by the time we were home. 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.’

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Anna Duff