Labour activist and Guardian columnist Owen Jones has accused Giles Coren of homophobia after he suggested Mr Jones could end up in the House of Lords “chasing young researchers with tight bottoms up and down the corridors”.
Mr Coren, the writer and TV presenter, was writing in a predictions for 2020 piece in The Times’ Red Box, and has since denied he was aware Mr Jones is gay.
He wrote: “My prediction for next year is Owen Jones getting a peerage in Corbyn’s resignation honours (does he get a go at that?) and becoming a fat old lord getting smashed on madeira in the morning and chasing young researchers with tight bottoms up and down the corridors all afternoon.”
Mr Jones responded on his Twitter account this afternoon.
Mr Coren insisted he was not being homophobic, but trying to make a joke about Mr Jones “being corrupted” and suggesting old lords are predatory.
I have to say I didn’t know he was gay. I hadn’t especially thought about it. I’ve always quite admired his way of presenting his position. And his articulacy. It’s just a joke about the possibility of someone as ‘pure’ as him being corrupted in the end.— Giles Coren (@gilescoren) December 31, 2019
Mr Jones, a vocal supporter of departing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, replied to his tweet in disbelief, and Mr Coren again said he would not make a homophobic remark.
Owen, I just wouldn’t attack or mock you for being gay. I’ve never done that to anybody in 25 years of writing.— Giles Coren (@gilescoren) December 31, 2019
It’s not gay equals predator it’s old lord equals predator. Probably not true either. But not homophobic. Or wasn’t meant to be.— Giles Coren (@gilescoren) December 31, 2019
The Times’ Red Box editor, Matt Chorley, who was also criticised by Mr Jones, insisted the remarks were a joke and claimed Mr Jones was aware of that.
Owen, this was clearly a joke by Giles, both about you being rewarded for your sterling (if unsuccessful) work for the Corbyn regime, and about what some lords (gay and straight) have got up to down the years. But I suspect you know that.— Matt Chorley (@MattChorley) December 31, 2019
The spat comes after three men admitted earlier this month that they were involved in an attack on Mr Jones at a pub in Islington in August.
James Healy, 40, Charlie Ambrose, 30, and Liam Tracey, 34, all admitted affray, with Healy also admitting assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Healy also faces a trial of issue in front of a judge to determine if his attack was motivated by Mr Jones’ sexuality, as the prosecution alleges.
The three, who all deny the attack was homophobic, are due to be sentenced in February.
The Times did not wish to comment on Mr Jones’ comments.