‘Persecution mania’ may have played a part in Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi’s marriage breakdown, says Maurice Saatchi

Lord Saatchi reveals some of the reasons that led to his brother’s divorce from TV chef

Tory peer Lord Saatchi has suggested that “persecution mania” may have played a part in the high-profile breakdown of his brother Charles’s relationship with celebrity chef Nigella Lawson.

Asked about their divorce in an interview, Lord (Maurice) Saatchi declined to talk about the pair in person, offering only a vague answer about the complexities of marriage.

“There are many aspects of human life, let’s consider them – persecution mania, love, sex, marriage, work. These are all areas which produce great difficulties in people, and family and marriage is certainly one of the most complex areas,” he told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show.

Lord Saatchi said it was “impossible” for anyone outside a marriage to know what is going on between a couple. Referring to his late wife, the author Josephine Hart, he added: “As Iris Murdoch said to Josephine Hart on many occasions, marriage is a private place.

“What Iris Murdoch was saying or suggesting was that it’s impossible for anybody, even the best friends or relatives of the people involved, to know what really happens between a man and a woman.

“When somebody installs CCTV in people’s bedrooms, which may be the next step of our surveillance state, then we’ll have the answer but until then we don’t know.”

Millionaire art collector Charles Saatchi and Ms Lawson were granted a decree nisi – the first legal step to ending their 10-year marriage – at a hearing at London’s High Court in July. Ms Lawson applied to divorce Saatchi on the grounds of his continuing unreasonable behaviour.

Pictures were published in June showing Mr Saatchi holding his wife by the throat as they had an argument on the terrace of a restaurant.

He dismissed the incident as “a playful tiff” but then accepted a  police caution for assault. Mr Saatchi later said that the pictures gave  a “wholly different and incorrect implication”.