Lawrence Jones is stripped of his honorary doctorate after the £700m tech tycoon once dubbed ‘Britain’s nicest boss’ was found guilty of drugging and raping two women 30 years ago
- Jones was awarded a doctorate by Manchester Metropolitan University in 2016
- The millionaire was convicted of two counts of rape at a trial earlier this month
Lawrence Jones has been stripped of his honorary doctorate after he being found guilty of drugging and raping two women 30 years ago.
The £700m tech tycoon, who was once known as ‘Britain’s nicest boss’, was awarded an honorary doctorate of business administration from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2016.
But a spokesperson for the university confirmed it had been ‘formally rescinded’ after Jones was convicted of two counts of rape and one count of sexual assault following two trials at Manchester Crown Court.
Jones, who was also awarded an MBE in 2015 for services to the digital economy, was accused of assaulting two women in the 1990s while he was a piano player in pubs and hotels across the city.
Jones had denied all wrongdoing but was convicted last week after a three-week trial. Following the guilty verdicts it also emerged that Jones had been convicted in last January of sexually assaulting a female employee at a London hotel in 2013.
Lawrence Jones has been stripped of his honorary doctorate after he being found guilty of drugging and raping two women 30 years ago. Pictured: receiving his honorary doctorate in business administration from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2016
Jones was accused of assaulting two women in the 1990s while he was a piano player in pubs and hotels across the city.
The businessman (right) at the height of his success playing chess with Richard Branson
A Manchester Metropolitan University spokesperson said: ‘Following the conviction of Lawrence Jones on two counts of rape, and the announcement of the earlier conviction for sexual assault, we have formally rescinded the honorary doctorate he was awarded by the University in 2016.’
READ MORE: Lawrence Jones’ daughters sob as £700m tech tycoon once dubbed ‘Britain’s nicest boss’ is found guilty of drugging and raping two women 30 years ago
The Bentley-driving former cathedral chorister was convicted last January of sexually assaulting an employee – then a recent graduate – on a business trip at a penthouse hotel suite in 2013.
The woman, who claimed Jones had instructed her that as part of her role she needed to ‘look like a Bond girl’, told police Jones had grabbed her legs as they sat on a sofa, saying: ‘Let me see your knickers.’
The millionaire then tried to push her thighs apart and get on top of her, she alleged, as she cried out: ‘No!’
‘He was pulling my dress down, pulling the top down,’ she added. ‘I was terrified, I was really scared. I felt like he was trying to have sex with me if I’m being honest. It was almost like I was his.’
He was convicted of two rapes earlier this month, which took place in a flat in Salford, Greater Manchester between 1993 and 1994 when Jones was about 25.
The victims did not come forward until ‘many years’ later, by which time Jones was ‘in the public eye’ as a result of becoming a successful entrepreneur.
The first victim, Woman A, met Jones while working in Manchester city centre.
She took a dislike to Jones after his response when she was ‘complaining’ about her ‘love life’, prosecutor Eloise Marshall KC told jurors.
Jones (pictured outisde court) had denied all wrongdoing but was convicted last week after a three-week trial
Jones shared this photo on his blog with the caption, ‘Stress free in the Maldives’
Jones allegedly told her ‘well you just need a damn good seeing to, you just need a good f******, don’t you?’.
According to Woman A, ‘she not only disagreed with his politics but found him arrogant’.
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However in late 1993, Jones asked her to come to his flat for a drink and a ‘chat’ so they could ‘get to know one another’.
She agreed and arrived alone at the ‘dimly lit’ flat after midnight, where Jones poured her a glass of wine – probably red – before rolling a ‘spliff’.
He then sat down next to her – ‘manspreading towards her on the sofa’, she later recalled – while she had a couple of drags on the joint and one glass of wine.
But the woman would later say her memories of what happened are ‘like snapshots or freeze frames’.
She later told police she recalled going to the toilet and feeling ‘ill’ – ‘spaced out, very floaty and not… right at all’.
In another ‘flash of memory’, she remembered Jones standing with his arms around her.
She felt ‘very strange, as if her body wasn’t her own, she felt numb’.
Then she recalled ‘falling backwards onto the bed’ and ‘coming round’ to find Jones ‘kissing her neck and her chest passionately with one hand going around her waist onto her back and the other hand on her left breast’.
At this point she believes she was bare-legged and had no top on. She believes she asked Jones something like ‘What are you doing?’
But he responded with something like ‘it’ll be our secret’ and ‘it’ll be good for you’, she said.
The woman said Jones warned her that he could do what he wanted to her because no-one knew she was there.
He was once a chocrister at Durham Cathedral, which he is seen posing in front of
Her next memory was when she ‘came round’ the following morning, with Jones booking her a taxi so she wouldn’t be late for work.
She felt ‘really, really rough, really sick with a headache as if she had had a big night out’ rather than how she would expect to feel after just one glass of wine.
Feeling ‘numb’ and ‘in shock’, she went home after her shift and had a shower.
Woman A just wanted to feel ‘normal’, she later told police.
She told three friends at the time about what had allegedly happened, Ms Marshall said, and later spoke to a counsellor and a police officer, although she did not make a formal complaint at that stage.
Her account to them was ‘consistent’ with what she would go on to tell police in 2021, jurors were told.
The second alleged incident involved a woman in her early 20s whom Jones had met while playing piano at Manchester bars, and also trying to establish a company managing musicians.
She told police she was chatting with Jones – who she described as having ‘poor hygiene’ and ‘a real ‘Ew’ about him’ – at his flat in 1993 or 1994 when he asked how old she was.
When she gave her age, Jones allegedly replied ‘look at you, you’re gorgeous’.
Jones then allegedly told her to sniff a small medicine bottle with a clear liquid inside it.
Jones playing the keyboard in the messy flat in Salford where he lived while working as a pianist
Woman B agreed – something the court heard now ‘surprises’ her – ‘and instantly felt really, really drunk’, prosecutor Eloise Marshall said.
She told police how she became ‘instantly sort of really floppy and relaxed all over and really out of it’.
The court heard she felt ‘Whoa’ and decided just to ‘lie back’ on a bed as she felt ‘light-headed and not completely conscious’.
But as she was lying on her back with her eyes shut, Jones had sex with her.
She told jurors that Woman B recalled how ‘there was no kissing, no conversation and no foreplay’.
It lasted about 30 seconds, according to Woman B who said it had been ‘bizarre and so fast, and so sort of opportunistic’.
Jurors were told her reaction had been almost like: ‘Did that really happen?’
Rather than being ‘angry’, she felt ‘shocked’, but also that it was her fault as she had not ‘fought back’, Ms Marshall said.
She questioned at the time whether it could be classified as rape as it had not been violent, she had not been pinned down and she did not try to scream or push him off, jurors were told.
As a result, she was subsequently not ‘confident enough’ to accuse Jones of raping her, describing herself as ‘naïve’.
Jones’ loyal wife Gail – with whom he shares four daughters – had stood by him during the trial
Feeling no-one would believe her, she decided to ‘park it’, although she later told her future husband and a close friend. She made a formal complaint to police in April 2022.
Interviewed by detectives in February 2022 about Woman A’s allegation, Jones made no comment to ‘almost every question’ he was asked.
He provided a prepared statement in which he denied raping her, with or without the use of drugs.
Jones was interviewed about Woman B’s allegations in July 2022, making no comment to the questions he was asked.
However in a prepared statement he accepted having known her but ‘vehemently’ denied raping her.
The trial will hear evidence about the different drugs that Jones may have used based on the women’s accounts.
Jones, of Hale Barns, Greater Manchester, will be sentenced on December 1.
Having started his working life as a hotel pianist, an eye for an opportunity saw the web-hosting business which Jones and his wife Gail founded in their spare bedroom grow into a tech powerhouse employing 500 people.
Along with a £700million fortune came an invitation to play chess against fellow entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson on Necker Island, being appointed MBE for services to the digital economy, and becoming a major donor to the Conservative Party.
The couple also own exclusive Swiss nightclub Le Farinet where Prince William was in 2017 pictured dancing with his hands on the waist of a mystery blonde during a lads’ skiing trip.
In 2018 he even boasted that he had been invited to Harry and Meghan’s wedding, although a spokesman the Sussexes later denied Jones was a guest.
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