Times columnist defends joke about Owen Jones ‘chasing researchers with tight bottoms’

A man has been found guilty of the aggravated assault of Guardian columnist Owen Jones due to homophobia and his aversion to left-wing political views.

The Times columnist Giles Coren has denied making a homophobic joke about left-wing pundit Owen Jones.

In a light-hearted round-up of predictions for 2020 published in the British newspaper, Coren took aim at Jones – who is gay, and a high-profile supporter of outgoing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Coren wrote: “My prediction for next year is Owen Jones getting a peerage in Corbyn’s resignation honours (does he get a go at that?) and becoming a fat old lord getting smashed on madeira in the morning and chasing young researchers with tight bottoms up and down the corridors all afternoon.”

The comments provoked anger from Jones, who tweeted: “Not exactly subtle homophobia being printed by @thetimes, is it?”

Giles Coren says he ‘didn’t know’ Owen Jones was gay

However, Coren has denied that the comments were homophobic – claiming that he did not realise Owen Jones was gay.

He tweeted: “I have to say I didn’t know he was gay. I hadn’t especially thought about it.

“I’ve always quite admired his way of presenting his position. And his articulacy. It’s just a joke about the possibility of someone as ‘pure’ as him being corrupted in the end.”

Coren added: “It’s an okay joke about idealistic young politicians turning into lecherous old peers. I didn’t know he was gay. I don’t follow him that closely.

“Some people are gay, some aren’t. But all dirty old men like right arses.”

Guardian columnist, Owen Jones speaks at an anti Boris Johnson  election rally

Guardian columnist, Owen Jones speaks at an anti Boris Johnson election rally (Andres Pantoja/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

He responded to Jones: “Owen, I just wouldn’t attack or mock you for being gay. I’ve never done that to anybody in 25 years of writing.

“I didn’t mean men’s arses so I didn’t say men’s arses. I just meant arses. You can do with it as you please.”

Although Coren said he had “never” mocked anybody for being gay in 25 years, a Twitter user pointed out he had cracked many ‘gay’ jokes there in the past.

Times says gag was not a gay joke

The Times Red Box editor Matt Chorley, who published the predictions round-up, also defended the piece.

He wrote: “Owen, this was clearly a joke by Giles, both about you being rewarded for your sterling (if unsuccessful) work for the Corbyn regime, and about what some lords (gay and straight) have got up to down the years. But I suspect you know that.”

The Times has declined to comment on the row.