Owen Jones: Left-wing commentator attacked in ‘blatant premeditated assault’ outside London pub

Zamira Rahim

Owen Jones has said the public needs to “wake up to the threat of the far-right” after saying he was attacked in a “blatant premeditated assault” while celebrating his birthday.

The author and columnist, who writes for The Guardian, said he was followed out of a pub by a group of men in the early hours of Saturday morning.

“Six of us were having a nightcap, a birthday nightcap, at The Lexington in Islington,” Mr Jones told The Independent.

“We were just chatting outside, just saying goodbye, then three, four guys came out and made a direct beeline for me.

“They kicked me in the back, kicked my head, then my friends got punched for trying to defend me. It was clearly meant for me.”

The left-wing writer described the ordeal as a “blatant, premeditated assault” on Twitter.

The 35-year-old was left with a “bloodied back” and a bump on his head.

“Within the context It’s absolutely inconceivable that it was anything other than a far-right attack,” he told The Independent.

“Over the last year the amount of death threats, threats from far-right sympathisers [I receive] have just escalated.”

The Guardian did a security review a couple of months ago and I was told that the biggest threat to me was from far-right sympathisers, in situations where they might be intoxicated.

“None of my friends were surprised. All of them were just waiting for this to happen.”

Mr Jones’ tweets prompted an outpouring of support from public figures and journalists.

“Shocking to hear about this attack on you & your friends,” said Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, on Twitter.

“The times we live in are increasingly dark and dangerous. You have all my love & support. Solidarity.”

“Police in Islington are investigating after a man in his 30s reported being assaulted outside a pub in Pentonville Road, N1,” a Metropolitan Police spokesperson said.

“He was attacked by up to four males who also assaulted his friends when they attempted to intervene.

“None of those injured required hospital treatment.”

“Enquiries into the full circumstances continue,” the spokesperson added, when asked if the alleged attack was politically motivated.

No arrests have been made.

“I’m absolutely not [changing my behaviour.] What can you do? You can’t stop going to pubs,” Mr Jones told The Independent.

“And I’m tougher than I look, low bar though that is.”

“The key thing is, it’s not about me. People need to wake up to the far-right, which is growing and is emboldened by the mainstream media and politicians.”

A recent report warned that the far-right is surging in the UK, with protests attracting the largest number of supporters since the 1930s.

Research for the Commission for Countering Extremism, seen exclusively by The Independent, said tens of thousands of people have descended on London since the start of 2018 over Tommy Robinson’s imprisonment and delays to Britain’s departure from the EU.

The research was one of four papers on the far-right commissioned by the new Commission for Countering Extremism, which was set up by the government in 2017 and has been conducting nationwide research on people’s views and experiences of extremism ever since.