Three men deny they were fuelled by homophobia when they attacked gay journalist Owen Jones

Owen Jones sported a black eye after the incident

Three men have denied that they were motivated by homophobia when they attacked gay Guardian columnist Owen Jones.

James Healy, Charlie Ambrose, and Liam Tracey have admitted a charge of affray over the incident outside a pub in Islington on 17 August, while Healy also admitted a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The writer, who is the author of 2011 non-fiction book Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class, said he was celebrating his birthday with friends when he was set upon.

Prosecutors told the court that the attack on Jones, who they described as a “journalist and a left-wing campaigner for LGBT people”, is believed to have been “motivated by his political and sexual views”.

Owen Jones at the PinkNews Awards
Owen Jones at the PinkNews Awards in November 2019 (Paul Grace)

However, appearing in Snaresbrook Crown Court, the men denied that the attack was motivated by the columnist’s sexuality.

A trial will be held in January over the motive, while the trio will be sentenced in February, facing the prospect of custodial sentences.

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Gay journalist Owen Jones says he was dragged to the ground and kicked by attackers

Owen Jones said at the time: “Me and a group of friends went for a nightcap in a pub with a late license.

“We were there for about 45 minutes, before a group of six of us left. A group of men charged, it was very premeditated and very targeted with military precision directed at me.

“They did a flying kick to my back, dragged me to the ground, and carried on kicking me.

“Without my friends, who I love very much, I have no idea what would have happened, because they had to fend them off.”

Jones said he has been “systematically and deliberately targeted by far-right activists” on previous occasions, recalling instances where he had been “mobbed by far-right activists yelling homophobic abuse”.