A man admits his face was “crunched up” with anger during an attack on left-wing activist Owen Jones, a court has heard.

But James Healy, 40, claims he was not motivated by the Guardian columnist’s political views or sexual orientation during the assault outside the Lexington pub on the Pentonville Road in Islington, north London.

Mr Jones, who is gay and campaigns for LGBT rights, was left with bruises down his body and cuts to his head after the attack on August 17.

Healy, who has admitted affray and assault occasioning actual bodily harm, is facing a trial of issue at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Thursday, with Mr Jones expected to give evidence against him.

Owen Jones suffered cuts and bruises in the attack (PA)

Prosecutor Philip McGhee said: “It is said, based on the evidence, that the assault was motivated by hostility borne by the defendant towards the victim either due to the victim’s sexual orientation or political views, or both.

“The defendant asserts the only motivation is something that happened between him and the victim inside the public house outside which the assault took place.”

CCTV footage may show an “altercation” between Jones and Healy before they left the pub, the court heard.

During the legal argument, Healy’s barrister, Matthew Radstone, said: “He accepts he did target him, he accepts his face was crunched up, he accepts using the word f***.

Mr Jones is gay and campaigns for LGBT rights (PA)

“It is an assault he has pleaded to and a frenzied one at that.”

Mr Radstone said prosecutors rely on the opinion of witnesses and items of memorabilia found in Healy’s home, arguing there is no evidence his client was motivated by homophobia or the victim’s political views.

“That memorabilia is consistent with Mr Healy being a Chelsea football supporter and part of the Chelsea football supporters’ group, who express themselves with memorabilia and behaviour of the type of insignia in that manner the flags perhaps suggest,” he said.

If the judge, Recorder Anne Studd QC, finds the assault was politically motivated she could still consider it an aggravating factor, although it is not defined as such in law.

The trial of issue, which is not in front of a jury, is expected to last up to two days.

Healy, from, Portsmouth, will be sentenced at a later date along with Charlie Ambrose, 30, from Brighton and Liam Tracey, 34, from Camden, who have previously pleaded guilty to affray over the incident.

Ambrose and Tracey previously both denied a charge of ABH and the charge was left to lie on file, with prosecutors accepting their actions were not motivated by homophobia.

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