Owen Jones

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Owen Jones was attacked during a night out to celebrate his birthday

Guardian columnist Owen Jones has been the subject of an “unrelenting” campaign of abuse by far-right sympathisers, a court has heard.

Mr Jones, 35, made the comments during a hearing of a man accused of launching a homophobic attack on him at the Lexington pub in Islington last year.

James Healy, 40, allegedly targeted Mr Jones because of his media profile as a left-wing and LGBQT rights activist.

He admits the attack but denies it was motivated by Mr Jones’s sexuality.

The defendant said he did not know who Mr Jones was, claiming he assaulted him because he barged him inside the north London pub, spilling his drink, and did not apologise.

Mr Jones suffered cuts and swelling to his back and head and bruises all down his body in the assault which happened on his birthday night out on 17 August.

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Mr Jones told the court some people see him as a “hate figure”

In his evidence at Snaresbrook Crown Court, Mr Jones said: “I’m an unapologetic socialist, I’m an anti-racist, I’m an anti-fascist and I’ve consistently used my profile to advocate left-wing causes.”

Mr Jones has almost one million Twitter followers, 125,000 followers on Instagram and 350,000 followers on Facebook.

“What I use these platforms for is to advocate left-wing ideas and a passion and unwavering commitment to opposing racism, fascism, Islamophobia and homophobia,” he told the court.

“Almost every single day I am the subject of an unrelenting campaign [of abuse] by far-right sympathisers.

“They’ve come to see me as this hate figure in their ranks.”

Mr Jones said he received death threats on a daily basis, adding: “It’s the combination of being left-wing, gay, anti-fascist – that’s everything the far right hate.”

‘Attacked from behind’

Describing the evening of the attack, Mr Jones said: “My recollection is that I was saying goodbye to a friend and then I was on the floor completely disoriented.

“In those 10 seconds, I don’t really remember what happened because I was attacked from behind, I had no sense of what was going to happen.”

When asked about the claim he had knocked Mr Healy’s drink, he said: “That absolutely did not happen.

“If I thought I had accidentally spilled someone’s drink, I would apologise profusely, I would say, ‘I’m so sorry’ and I would insist – whether they liked it or not – on buying them another drink.”

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Owen Jones had been drinking in The Lexington in Islington

Following Mr Healy’s arrest, a search of his home revealed a photograph of him performing a Nazi salute.

The court heard the photo showed Mr Healy as a teenager but had been printed out in 2015.

Mr Healy also allegedly had a football hooligan flag adorned with SS symbols and a collection of pin badges linked to white supremacist groups.

He told the court: “I’m a hoarder. I never throw anything away. I just had them all that time tucked away in the back of a drawer.

“Bearing in mind they came into my possession in 1998, there was no internet back then, the information now is easily available.

“As far as I knew, they were connected to football and football violence.”

The court heard Healy has a string of convictions for football violence and is currently subject to a football banning order for encroaching on a pitch.

The defendant, who has admitted affray and assault occasioning actual bodily harm, is facing a trial of issue to determine his motivation for attacking Mr Jones.

Mr Healy, from Portsmouth, is due to be sentenced on 11 February.

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