Ex-UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones charged with rape, Greater Manchester Police confirms

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Lawrence Jones, former CEO of Manchester-based cloud computing firm UKFast, has been charged with rape and four counts of sexual assault, Greater Manchester Police has confirmed.

Jones, who founded the cloud hosting and colocation provider with his wife Gail in 1999, is due to appear at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 26 January 2021 to face the charges.

The police statement confirmed that the offences are alleged to have taken place in 2010 and 2013, respectively.

As previously reported by Computer Weekly, Jones was the subject of a report featuring allegations about his sexual misconduct and bullying that appeared in The Financial Times back in October 2019, which was informed by the responses of 30 former employees.

The following month, Greater Manchester Police confirmed it had interviewed Jones in relation to allegations of sexual assault, and that its inquiries into the matter would be ongoing.

The Financial Times report prompted Jones to take a leave of absence as CEO of UKFast in October 2019, with his wife taking over his responsibilities. The company confirmed in a statement at the time that there would be an internal investigation into the allegations raised in the article.

In a statement to Computer Weekly at the time, Jones vehemently denied the allegations made in The Financial Times article, describing them as “false and malicious” and vowed to clear his name.

 “A number of false and malicious allegations have been made against me and I am absolutely determined to ensure that they are fully investigated so that my name can be cleared,” he said in a statement to Computer Weekly.

“The interests of the employees, clients and investors in the business are paramount and much more important than any one individual. In the meantime, I am confident that the business will continue to grow and prosper.”

Both Jones and his wife severed ties with UKFast in May 2020, according to Companies House, which was around the same time that private equity company Inflexion became a majority shareholder in the company. One month later, the company appointed a new CEO, Ian Brown.

Computer Weekly contacted UKFast for a comment on this story, but had received no response at the time of publication.

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