A perceived wishy-washy response to the Nigella Lawson choking incident has prompted an outcry against Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
Various groups and individuals have accused him of being soft on domestic violence for comments made on the radio today that the incident may have been “a fleeting thing” or “a fleeting moment.”
Nigella Lawson, the celebrity chef and TV cooking star, was allegedly choked by her husband, real estate mogul Charles Saatchi, while they were sitting at an outdoor table at a London restaurant. Photos of the attack showed up in a UK tabloid last Sunday and made huge news both in Britain and around the world. Saatchi dismissed it “a playful tiff” but has voluntarily taken a so-called police caution for the incident.
Clegg was taking phone calls on a radio talk show when a caller asked him what he would do if he had been seated at the next table from the couple. The lawmaker seemed to really struggle to formulate an answer. This is kind of surprising because high-level politicians usually come equipped with prepared answers (often provided by staff) to such hot-button issues.
Clegg said: “What a difficult question…. when you see a couple having an argument, most people just assume that the couple will resolve it themselves. If of course something descends into outright violence, that’s something different. I just don’t know, there was this one photograph, I don’t know whether that was just a fleeting thing… or… I’m really sorry… I’m at a loss to be able to put myself in to that position without knowing exactly what…”
The Deputy PM, a Liberal Democrat who serves in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government under Prime Minister David Cameron, was subsequently blasted by other lawmakers and across social media for what they considered his minimizing of domestic violence and domestic abuse.
As a result of the firestorm, he later issued a statement that read in part: “I completely condemn all forms of domestic violence”… as I said on the radio, my instinct would always be to try and protect the weaker person… But I was asked a very specific question about how I would have reacted to a specific incident which I did not see…I said I did not know how I would have reacted to that specific incident because I do not know what happened. The point I was making is that I don’t know what other people in the restaurant saw and I don’t want to make a judgement on their reaction.”
Clegg has also taken some heat for seemingly stonewalling a sexual harassment investigation of another Liberal Democrat politician.
Do you think Nick Clegg was out of line or have the critics overreacted to his broadcast comments about the Nigella Lawson choking attack?