Police are investigating an attack against Guardian columnist and Labour activist Owen Jones outside of a London pub on Saturday morning. After celebrating his birthday, Jones was saying goodbye to his friends when a group of men went directly to him and began beating him up in what he described as “a blatant premeditated assault.”
Jones described the attack in a series of tweets. “A group of 3-4 men left the pub, made a beeline for me, kicked me in the back, threw me on the ground, slamming my head, and kicked me in the skull,” Jones wrote. The columnist said some of his friends were hurt while trying to defend him but says he’s “fine other than a big bump on my head and a cut back.”
Jones went on to note that he has “no doubt” this was a targeted attack, noting he has received threats in the past. Earlier this year, for example, someone took photographs of him in a pub and published them along with a threatening message.
“We deplore the outrageous attack on Owen Jones that took place late last night. Violent assaults on journalists or activists have no place in a democratic society,” Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief of the Guardian and Observer, said. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also condemned the assault: “An attack on a journalist is an attack on free speech and our fundamental values.”
Although Jones said that he would not let the attack intimidate him, he recognized this type of assault would have an effect on him. “I’m obviously very concerned and worried—not simply about my own personal safety, but of others, and the fact that the far right feels increasingly emboldened and far right-types are feeling increasingly prepared to resort to thuggery and violence,” he said.
Police say they are investigating to establish the “full circumstances” of the attack. The general manager of the pub where Jones was celebrating with his friends said he reviewed security camera footage and thought it was “possible” they could identify the attackers.
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