Saatchi, 70, told the London Evening Standard that he and Lawson, 53, were indeed arguing at a restaurant on June 9, but characterized their disagreement as a "playful tiff."
A report in Britain's Sunday People offered a different account, with witnesses saying that Saatchi grabbed Lawson by the throat four times and that Lawson left the restaurant "distraught and in tears."
"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 emphasize my point," Saatchi told the Evening Standard, where he also works as a columnist. "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."
Saatchi added that the couple had "made up" by the time they returned home.
Lawson has reportedly left the couple's home with their children, but Saatchi told the Evening Standard she did so on his recommendation, so as to escape paparazzi attention after the photographs were published.