The Deputy Prime Minister has risked criticism after using the word "fleeting" to describe an incident of alleged domestic violence between Nigella Lawson and her husband Charles Saatchi.
Asked on his LBC radio phone-in what his reaction would have been if he had been present during the alleged altercation, Nick Clegg urged caution because the details of the incident, for which Saatchi accepted a police caution for assault, were not clear.
"When you see a couple having an argument, most people just assume that the couple will resolve it themselves," Mr Clegg said.
"If, of course, something descends into outright violence then that's something different.
"I just don't know - there was this one photograph - whether that was a fleeting thing."
He admitted he had not realised there were more photographs and said that generally his instinct would be to protect the weaker person if physically threatened.
Art collector Charles Saatchi has announced he is divorcing Nigella Lawson, weeks after he was pictured with his hand over her throat.
Charles Saatchi dismissed pictures showing him with his hand around his wife Nigella Lawson's neck as part of a "playful tiff."