Former UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones appears in court on rape and sexual assault charges

David Prior's picture
by David Prior

Lawrence Jones, the former chief executive and founder of UKFast, has appeared in court charged with rape and sexual assault.

The 53-year-old, from Hale Barns, pleaded not guilty to four counts of sexual assault when he appeared at Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court this morning.

He was not asked to enter a plea to a fifth charge, which relates to the rape of a woman at a Manchester hotel in 2010, because it can only be dealt with at a crown court.

The Manchester Evening News reports that Jones, who stepped down as CEO of UKFast in October 2019 following allegations that first appeared in the Financial Times, appeared in the dock for the four-minute hearing wearing a suit and mask.

He was asked to remove his mask to confirm his name, date of birth and address.

One of the sexual assault charges accuses Jones of intentionally touching a female on her thighs without consent in 2013. The other three sexual assault charges relate to a second female.

District Judge Bernard Begley adjourned the case until February 23 when Jones will appear at Manchester Crown Court. He was released on unconditional bail.

In a statement released last month, Jones said: “Approximately eighteen 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.”

Jones and wife Gail, UKFast's co-founders, exited UKFast in May last year when private equity group Inflexion increased its shareholding in the company to around 75%.

The pair each owned 30.9% of UKFast, having already sold a 31.6% stake to Inflection in 2019.