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Lawrence Jones found guilty on two counts of rape

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Lawrence Jones, the co-founder and former CEO of Manchester cloud provider UKFast, has been found guilty of drugging and raping two young women in his Salford flat.

The 55-year-old, who was made an MBE in 2015, will now face sentencing at a hearing scheduled for December 1.

The judge, Judge Sarah Johnston, advised the jury that Mr Jones will be sentenced for these offences and a separate offence of sexual assault that he was found guilty of at another trial. She explained that she did not tell them of the conviction previously because she wanted them to try the case based on the evidence in this trial.

Jones has already spent 10 months in jail after being convicted of sexual assault at a trial that concluded in January, it can now be revealed. Reporting restrictions were placed on that conviction on account of the upcoming second trial, and have now been lifted with that case’s conclusion.

The January conviction related to the sexual assault of a former UKFast employee in his hotel suite during a business trip to London a decade ago. Jones was also cleared of raping and sexually assaulting  another former employee in 2010 during the first trial.

The jury were unanimous in their decision on the most recent charges, both of which Jones denied.

Jones launched UKFast from his spare bedroom at the turn of the century and had built it into Britain’s biggest privately owned hosting provider by the time he was awarded an MBE for services to the digital economy in 2015. The company was valued at £405m when private equity firm Inflexion took a 30 per cent stake in 2018.

He stepped down as UKFast CEO in October 2019 following an investigation by the Financial Times which accused the company chief of sexual assault and workplace misconduct.

Jones said through a statement from his lawyer at the time that he would “take a leave of absence” as he fought the “false and malicious” allegations.

He added in the statement that the FT’s claims, which the paper said were based on interviews with more than 30 employees, were “completely at odds with the workplace culture which I have always promoted,” pointing to the fact that UKFast was a regular feature in the Sunday Times’ “Best Companies To Work For” list and the “Great Place to Work” list.

Jones’ wife Gail initially stepped into her husband’s position as CEO, however the pair formally quit the company in 2020. It was taken over by minority shareholder Inflexion that same year and ultimately merged with the ANS brand.

In January 2021, Jones was charged with one count of rape and four counts of sexual assault. The offences were alleged to have taken place in 2010 and 2013 in Wales, Hale, Manchester and London. Jones pleaded not guilty to all five charges at hearings at Manchester Magistrates and Crown Court in January and February, 2021.

Two months later, in April, Greater Manchester Police charged Jones with a second count of rape which allegedly took place several years earlier, during a 1993 incident in Salford.

Jones appeared at Manchester Crown Court to plead not guilty to that charge on May 19, 2021, as reported by the MEN’s court reporter Andrew Bardsley. The defendant was released on unconditional bail at that time with a trial scheduled to commence in February 2022.

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