Was the violent assault of Owen Jones a hate crime?
Back in August of this year, journalist Owen Jones was assaulted in London.
Three men were charged with the attack – James Healy, 39, from Portsmouth; Liam Tracey, 34, from Camden, London; and Charlie Ambrose, 29, from Brighton.
The men appeared in court today for a plea hearing, and all three pleaded guilty to the charge of affray. James Healy also admitted a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
According to reporting by the Guardian, Healy denies the attack was motivated by homophobia. It’s not clear whether this denial also applies to Tracey and Ambrose or whether they are facing any hate-crime related charges. It seems that Healy will now face trial before a judge on the question of whether there was a homophobic motivation to the attack.
When we get to the sentencing stage of this case, all three men could be facing custodial sentences.
Jones was celebrating his birthday with five friends. It was Friday 17 August – a pub in Islington, close to where Jones lives. At the end of the night, the friends were leaving the pub and saying their goodbyes.
A group of men followed Jones and his friends out of the pub and attacked them. Jones was kicked in the back and hit in the head. His friends were also assaulted as they tried to defend him. The attackers then immediately fled the scene.
The next day, Jones shared details of the attack via Twitter, confirming that he was okay, just suffering a big bump on his head and a cut on his back.
Jones had no doubt that it was a premeditated attack, specifically targeting him.
The attack sparked an outpouring of support following a wave of violence and intimidation against journalists, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn saying it appeared to have been “politically motivated”.
Born in Sheffield in 1984, Jones was raised in Manchester.
He describes himself as a fourth-generation socialist. His grandfather was a member of the Communist Party. His father was a trade union shop steward and his parents met as members of the Trotskyist group.
After graduating from Oxford, Jones worked as a trade union lobbyist, and as a parliamentary researcher for Labour Party MP John McDonnell.
After beginning his journalism career with The Independent, Jones is now a weekly columnist for The Guardian.
Jones regularly appears on television news programs as a political commentator, as well as speaking on issues relevant to the LGBTQ community.
In 2011, Jones published his first book - Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class.
In 2014, Jones published his second book – The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It.
In the aftermath of the 2016 attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Jones walked out of an interview on Sky News in protest at the attack’s impact on the LGBTQ community being downplayed.