TV cook Nigella Lawson’s lawyers want London public relations practitioner Richard Hillgrove to delete a blogpost suggesting that she and her soon-to-be ex-husband Charles Saatchi faked an assault.
Earlier this summer, the UK People newspaper published photos of Saatchi clutching Lawson’s neck at a restaurant. Saatchi defended the incident as a “playful tiff” and tried to explain away that Lawson was crying because “we both hate arguing.” But, because of the photos, the police gave Saatchi a “caution for assault” — (which is an alternative to a “full court hearing,” the Guardian explains). Lawson and Saatchi are now getting divorced.
Hillgrove, the blogger, claimed on his blog this month that the photos of Lawson and Saatchi were all just part of a publicity stunt.
“The notion that a paparazzi photographer would be allowed to stick a camera lens through the window of Scotts of Mayfair for over 30 minutes and photograph a ‘domestic attack’ made in full light of day with passing waiters, management and customers is preposterous,” Hillgrove elaborated. He went on:
“No one, whether a wife abuser or not, would engage is such prolonged, theatrical assault in public unless playing to an audience.”
Hillgrove further claimed that Lawson, who hasn’t commented about the photos or incident, is being quiet because “she didn’t wish to give the game away.”
Schillings law firm wrote to Hillgrove on Lawson’s behalf this past week calling for the unpublishing.
iMediaEthics saw a copy of the July 24 letter, which is marked “URGENT NOT FOR PUBLICATION.” Schillings’ letter described Hillgrove’s blogpost’s claims as “extremely damaging…grossly offensive and wholly inappropriate.” It also called for Hillgrove to not only “immediately” delete his blogpost and his tweets about the blogpost, but also to have any re-publications of his posting deleted and to agree not to publish “any similar allegations” again.
A tweet that Schillings wants deleted is shown below.
Charles Saatchi Gave Nigella Lawson a ‘Publicity Payoff’ Rather Than Cash for Divorce – PR Guru Richard Hillgrove: http://t.co/dSQtcW1Pq6
— Hillgrove PR (@HillgrovePR) July 23, 2013
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Further, the letter calls for Hillgrove to make an apology “in wording to be agreed with our client in advance.”
The letter indicated that the longer Hillgrove waited to meet its demands, the more he would have to pay in “costs and damages.”
In a follow-up letter dated July 25 and also marked “Not for Publication,” Schillings said he hadn’t heard from Hillgrove yet and that he had been unsuccessful in trying to reach him. Hillgrove was given the deadline of July 25 at 2 pm to comply or else Lawson would ‘initiate proceedings against you.”
In a July 27 e-mail, Hillgrove told iMediaEthics that “I am not complying with the letters and will fight hem.”
iMediaEthics also asked Hillgrove what prompted his blogpost — whether it was based on a tip from someone or just his own theory.
Hillgrove indicated that the story didn’t feel right to him because he thinks that someone would have stopped the fight. Hillgrove’s response said:
“I am well used to the commonplace activity in PR of doing set up paparazzi shoots with personalities. Too many elements didn’t add up. The photographer doing interviews gave the game away when he stated it was a sustained attack over 30 minutes. Scotts is one of the most photographed celebrity restaurants in the world. They were sitting in an outside area of Scott’s where paparazzi photographers snap away all the time. The restaurant management, staff and customers would have noticed and interjected if there any sort of sustained attack going on. It’s just pure fantasy.I also have the utmost respect for Mr. Saatchi who I know would not act in such a manner.”
In an interview with the Guardian, Hillgrove added that while he hasn’t had contact with Saatchi about the photos, he thinks “it’s grossly unfair the way he has been treated.”
Interestingly, The Drum reported that Schillings called for those who wrote about Hillgrove’s blog to delete their stories. “Most, including The Drum, complied,” The Drum stated.
iMediaEthics has reached out to The Drum seeking more information about its agreement to delete a blogpost. We’ve also written to Schillings law firm for more information and will update with any responses.
Hat Tip: Whats On TV