Freelance sold Nigella pics to Sunday People because 'they are good guys who don't mess you about'

The photographer who took pictures of Nigella Lawson being attacked by husband Charles Saatchi has said he has been inundated with requests from media organisations.

The photographer, who does not wish to be named, also told Press Gazette that the set of snaps sold to the Sunday People for last weekend’s splash were not offered to other papers, though he said he would have taken them to The Mail On Sunday had the People turned them down.

Since the story broke on Sunday, he has sold copies of the pictures, which show Saatchi grabbing Lawson's neck, to news outlets as far afield as Poland, China and Malaysia, as well as to several in the US.

The photographer is understood to have long-standing ties with the People picture desk and the story is a coup for staffers Mark Moylan and Irfan Cemal. The photographer said of the People: “They are just really good guys who don’t mess you about.”

The photographer did not sell syndication rights for the photos to the People’s parent company, Trinity Mirror. Instead, he opted to handle the sale to individual organisations himself.

“It’s been a crazy week,” he said “Absolutely everyone has gone for it and my phone’s been ringing every five minutes.”

He did not reveal the prices being paid for the images, adding that they were agreed on a case by case basis.

It is understood that some news outlets have paid up to £5,000 for the photos, even after the story had broken, and that the People paid around £15,000.

He said: “If someone only gets a small readership I wouldn’t charge them the same as I do the big boys.”

The photographer said the pictures, which resulted in Saatchi accepting a police caution for assault, were the most shocking he has taken in two decades of snapping celebrities. But he admitted there was an element of luck involved.

“It wasn’t something I expected. I just drove past and saw them there. I expected I’d get a picture of Nigella leaving the restaurant. I was there for 30 or 35 minutes and that’s when it happened. I thought: ‘My God, this isn’t a game, he is really angry.’”

The story became the most viewed article in the history of the Mirror’s website, attracting more than 20m hits by Wednesday afternoon.

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