Charles Saatchi has confirmed he and TV chef Nigella Lawson are to divorce in the wake of recent pictures which showed them having an apparent violent argument.

The snaps, which emerged in a Sunday paper last month, appeared to show the millionaire art dealer holding Nigella by the throat as they dined outside at a Mayfair restaurant.

The 70-year-old has now told the Mail On Sunday that he has now made the ‘heartbreaking’ decision to split from his wife.

“I am sorry to announce that Nigella Lawson and I are getting divorced,” he said in the statement.

“I feel that I have clearly been a disappointment to Nigella during the last year or so, and I am disappointed that she was advised to make no public comment to explain that I abhor violence of any kind against women, and have never abused her physically in any way.”

“This is heartbreaking for both of us as our love was very deep,” he added but in the last year we have become estranged and drifted apart.”

Mr Saatchi accepted a police caution following the incident, which he later dismissed as a ‘playful tiff’ – adding that he had taken the caution to avoid the argument ‘hanging over’ them.

The couple had been married since September 2003.

Nigella – whose most recent TV show Nigellissima was broadcast last autumn – was previously married to journalist John Diamond, who died of cancer in 2001