Owen Jones

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Owen Jones was leaving a pub in north London when a group of men assaulted him

Three men have admitted being involved in an attack on Guardian columnist Owen Jones but denied it was motivated by homophobia.

The journalist was celebrating his birthday at the Lexington pub in Islington, north London, when he was targeted on 17 August.

James Healy, 40, Charlie Ambrose, 30, and Liam Tracey, 34, admitted a charge of affray at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

Healey also admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

He will now face a trial of issue in front of a judge to decide whether the attack was motivated by Mr Jones’s sexuality.

Mr Jones, who is gay and campaigns for LGBT rights, suffered cuts and swelling to his back, head and bruises all down his body in the assault.

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Owen Jones had been drinking in the Lexington pub on the Pentonville Road in Islington, north London, when he was targeted

At a previous hearing, Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court heard Mr Jones was “karate-kicked” in the back.

Prosecutor Philip McGhee said if the attack was found to be motivated by homophobia “it would have a material impact” on sentence.

The trial of issue against Healy will take place at the same court in January and Mr Jones will be required to give evidence.

All three men are due to be sentenced on 11 February and were warned they could face prison. Judge Paul Southern granted the defendants conditional bail until then.

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