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.
In an updated statement, circulated in response to news of the charges being brought against him today, Jones said: “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.”
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 the company said it had no statement to make.