Lawrence Jones, the former chief exec of Manchester-HQ’d hosting firm UKFast, has been charged with rape and sexual assault.
Greater Manchester Police issued a statement at lunchtime confirming that Jones, 52, had been charged with one count of rape and four counts of sexual assault.
“The offences are alleged to have taken place in 2010 and 2013 respectively,” said the police force, which added that the offences were reported in 2019.
Jones denies all allegations of wrongdoing.
Jones quit after almost 20 years as UKFast’s CEO on 31 October 2019 following the publication of a Financial Times investigation. The investigation alleged Jones, who co-founded the company, oversaw an atmosphere of fear, sexually inappropriate behaviour, verbal abuse and bullying at the hosting company, as we reported at the time. It was said to have been based on interviews with more than 30 former UKFast staff.
The following day Greater Manchester Police confirmed that Jones had “voluntarily attended” an interview with detectives.
Jones did not immediately respond to The Register’s request for comment but he told the FT today: “Approximately 18 months ago, I contacted the police and was interviewed voluntarily because I became aware of rumours circulating about me that although false were extremely damaging. I have fully co-operated with the police throughout, and am determined to ensure that my name is cleared. In the circumstances, at this time it would not be appropriate to say any more, other than to state clearly that I did not do what is being alleged.”
The financial newspaper reported that private equity firm Inflexion, an investor in UKFast, had pushed for Jones to step down after publication of the investigation. After his departure as UKFast CEO Jones’ wife Gail Jones took over the firm.
Last May Gail Jones exited UKFast altogether as Inflexion upped its holding to 75 per cent of the hosting firm. She was replaced by Ian Brown, previously chief exec of Rentalcars.com, in June.
UKFast Group Ltd reported revenues of £62.5m for fiscal/calendar year 2019 and gross profits of £25.2m in its latest accounts [PDF], filed with Companies House in October 2020.
Jones, of Brooks Drive, Hale Barns, near Altrincham in Greater Manchester, is innocent unless proven guilty. His first court hearing is set for 26 January at Manchester Magistrates’ Court. The Register will be covering his case. ®
Gareth Corfield is The Register's London court reporter. You can contact him by email here or on Signal on +44 7714 750 783. Other, more secure, methods are available on request.