IWD 2024: When you’re a workplace predator, it’s a hard habit to break.


Estimated reading time: 14 minutes
Musings
Ceramic bee, my garden, December 2023

Today is a special International Women’s Day for me, because I have somehow, despite considerable obstacles placed into our paths, successfully launched a woman.

That is to say, I’ve navigated my daughter through infancy, childhood, and adolescence, via two global financial crises, the alcohol-fueled breakdown of her parents’ marriage, the subsequent eviction that saw the loss of our home and everything in it, the disintegration of the British social safety net around her, and the small matter of a global pandemic which screwed up her schooling for years, and emerged, on the other end, with a fully-functional, whip-smart, self-reliant adult woman.

(Did I mention she’s got a 100% Glaswegian mouth that can bite your head off before you notice it’s missing? That too.)

I’m proud of you, kid. I really am. And I’m not just saying that because it all started with you making me vomit for eight weeks straight.

I’m enjoying this new stage in our relationship, because we can have heavy conversations that are as tricky as they are dark. We can discuss the most awful stuff happening in the world. We can discuss the most awful people in the world. I never fail to be amazed by what she knows. And I never fail to be fiercely proud of how she always sides with the oppressed rather than the oppressor.

But still. For everything she knows, there’s a lot she’s only beginning to learn.

For example.

She knows about personal safety. She knows her name was Sarah Everard. She knows about digital safety. She knows why I say the things I do in the government buildings I say them in. She knows about sexism in and out of the workplace. She knows, a little bit, about some of the things I’ve experienced in the workplace and in my projects. She knows that I’m really glad I didn’t drop £64 on the Wilbur hoodie she desperately wanted at this time last year, because this month she’d have set it on fire.

She knows about those men.

What she doesn’t know about, yet, is the women.

I’ve decided that it’s time that she did.

I’ve been explaining to her, gently, that predators can only do what they do because of enablers. So I’ve explained, to her genuine shock, that there are as many women who make those things possible as there are men. I’m bringing her around to the understanding that there are women who will reach out to you, befriend you, and offer to lift you up, when their sole intentions are to bring you down.

I’m explaining to her that there are women, particularly in tech, whom I refer to as “Sheryls” (for Sandberg), who talk a big talk about empowering women in the workplace, but it’s all “personal branding” shite to sell books. At the end of the day, they’re corporate suits who do what men tell them to do and apologise on their men’s behalves when said men fuck everything up, and that is all they will, and should, be remembered for. There are more than a few Sheryls in this world, aren’t there.

And beyond those women, who view other women as career obstacles to be stepped on, I’ve explained to her that there are women with far darker motivations – the Ghislaine Maxwells of this world, really – whose only thought in the workplace is that daddy gets what daddy wants.

So I’ve taught my daughter about Lawrence Jones, the former CEO of web hosting company UKFast, now a convicted rapist doing 15 years in Strangeways, where various parts of his posh Tory donor body are receiving all the kinds of violent sexual assault he ever inflicted onto the many, many young women he attacked. (He’s having the time of his life in there, isn’t he.)

I explained how he came for me when I called him out for his behaviour way back in 2009, and I explained how the news of his conviction fourteen years later caused me to have violent nightmares for a week. While I didn’t have her read my blog post where I recount the whole story, I did have her read this safe-for-teenagers article about what he did, and I got her to understand that – as with Wilbur – what made the difference wasn’t one woman speaking out.

It was one woman being believed.

And once she’d taken that in, I explained the waste of oxygen that is Gail Jones.

The 2009 UKFast ad that started it all, featuring his very young “management trainees” dressed as even younger naughty schoolgirls. After the public shitposting, Loz later privately harassed me from a sock puppet account claiming to be one of these girls’ daddies, which is a hell of a way for a father to LARP his daughter fantasies.

I explained that none of what Lawrence Jones did was possible without his number one fan, enabler, defender, supporter, business co-founder and managing director – his wife – being there, for him, every step of the way, and defending him even as he was put away for good.

I explained how his enabler-wife’s physical presence, not to mention her emotional gaslighting, was how he managed to prey on so many women in plain sight and in the public eye.

I explained how when Loz was striding bare-chested around the UKFast office like an alpha gorilla, or putting baskets of condoms on display at company events, or taking underage female employees to sex shops as part of their inductions, his enabler-wife was standing right there, in her diamonds and heels and lasered teeth, smiling like a shark. And what could a young woman, fresh out of school, ready to prove herself at the start of the career, possibly be expected to conclude about that?

I explained how when Loz was sending his harem of “Fast Girls” to public events, like his own personal Benny Hill entourage except with sexual assault instead of a laugh track, his enabler-wife was right there, in the harem, in the harem’s uniform hotpants. And what could a young woman, offered a job with great career advancement as long as you agree to start out in the hotpants, possibly be expected to conclude about that?

Yer man there on his now-deleted blog, typing with sticky fingers about his wife and his PA, sitting in matching hotpants on a luxury car, as you do. His PA is also pictured, above and below, dressed as a naughty underage schoolgirl, as you do. Well-spotted by Aisha Ali-Khan, who knows to keep a folder where you screen grab and save everything forever, as you should.

I explained how when Loz took my bait and wrote a shitpost about me, titled “A Hard Habit To Break”, and also contacted my clients to register his disgust about their web designer, he concluded his post with “my wife has put her views here” and that, submissively as ever, she duly posted herself in defence of her husband’s public sexual predation. And what could a young woman, doubting what she’d just been through, possibly be expected to conclude about that?

So let’s talk about that young woman, because she’s not hypothetical. She exists.

(To those who followed the case, you know who I mean. I’m not linking to it because she needs to be protected, by all of us, from them, still. May the rage of all of Manchester fall on your head if you don’t.)

When the Financial Times came out with its impeccably legally vetted piece about what everyone in Manchester already knew about Loz and Gail’s sick little empire, a lot of people assumed it was an overreaction to office banter – the old refrain of “can’t you take a joke?

So I want to share the details which just one of his alleged victims shared about what happened to her during a job interview at Loz & Gail’s Swiss chalet.

These details are so horrific that I’ve put them in a spoiler. Do not read them if you’re not able to cope with it. Because this is not a bit of office banter. And do keep in mind that this is an excerpt from her full account of his sexual assault.

Click here for detail - tw rape
He pushed me on my front playfully and started to try and touch me inappropriately, at this point i pushed him away as I was on my period. He then ran me a bath which was in the corner of the room and told me to get in it so he could see it go red. I thought at this point that he just had a weird fetish so I kind of ignored it and let it slide. He was sat on the bad just watching me have a bath and he started to rub himself. I got out of the bath and grabbed a towel and he pulled me over to the bed and put me on my back and I was nervously laughing so he started laughing and said “you cant wait to show me your c*** can you?” I told him again that I was on my period and I would be off in a few days if he could just wait. He then proceeded to put his penis in ‘the other hole’ and I just lay there on my belly until he was finished. I remember just being lay there asking myself whether I was being raped or this was something I had caused.

Gail Jones was fine with that. Daddy gets what daddy wants.

This is the notorious magazine ad for Loz & Gail’s Swiss chalet. What they had in mind by “après” (“after”) is described above in the spoiler.

So on International Women’s Day, let’s reflect on the legacy of this “distinguished” woman in tech. A woman whom her husband thanked, profusely, for making everything in his life possible: and he wasn’t talking about the Bentleys and the chalets. He was talking about whatever sick little arrangement they had going on that was a Hard Habit to Break.

And still is.

LinkedIn post

thanks wifey for letting me finger all the girls, you’re a star x

Let’s reflect on how, by choosing to just stand there smiling in the luxury chalets, and by choosing to just sit there in the courtroom “gazing at her husband with apparent adoration and shooting him cheery grins“, she aided, abetted, and enabled a serial rapist as much as if she’d held the women down.

Which, in many ways, she did.

Let’s reflect on how, by being the sort of female role model who allowed daddy to make her cry in the office, because daddy gets what daddy wants, the court found that her behaviour “helped explain why female employees at UKFast felt unable to complain about his sexualised behaviour towards them.” Some role model.

Let’s reflect on how, by being the smiling face of UKFast’s “women in tech” initiatives that were really about keeping hot girls coming through the pipeline, she ruined “women in tech” initiatives for everyone, and so from now on, any woman being approached by a “women in tech” group needs to do her due diligence to make sure it’s not a bullshit front for what daddy wants.

Let’s reflect on how their “champions of women in the workplace” act was so cynical that she exalted herself for introducing good maternity leave policies for female employees, at the same company where one of her husband’s performative tirades was to randomly scream at female employees that they’d better be taking it anal because he didn’t like it when staff got pregnant.

Let’s reflect on how, having helped to establish what was for some time a very successful company, she clearly had some talents as a businesswoman but threw it all away for a piece of shit and some bling. Why?

Let’s reflect on how she sat there, in his criminal rape trials, defiantly standing by her man whilst simultaneously, and pathetically at her age, holding on to her own mummy and daddy for support. (Seriously, Gail, grow the fuck up.)

Speaking of her parents, let’s reflect on how Loz & Gail’s sick little arrangement was so tight that they appointed her mother to the role of HR manager: because what 20-year-old woman is going to go to the nice older lady in HR and say “Hi, I think the CEO who gave you your job, your son-in-law, might have drugged me?”

Let’s reflect on how, at the sentencing hearing, she stood up and moaned “our kids have got to be without their dad”, about young women – young women – who should never, ever, ever be allowed to be in a room with their rapist father without a law enforcement officer present for the rest of their lives.

And let’s reflect how, when it came time to send him back to Strangeways, the judge noted how neither Gail nor Loz’s moaning contained a single word of remorse for the other women’s daughters that they both had a lot of fun hurting, together.

So why have I held this one over to International Women’s Day? After all, he’s in jail now, they’re both out of the company, and she’s nothing more than a martyred single parent now, so that’s the story done. Right?

Wrong.

The story is not over.

When I wrote my previous post, I visited Loz’s LinkedIn profile. After the sexual assault revelations led to him stepping down from his own company, he tried to reinvent himself as – you couldn’t make it up – David Brent. He rebranded himself, post-office/Office, as a sensitive folksy singer-songwriter, reclaiming the dream that had been there all along:

though, Loz being Loz, “a witness has now come forward to claim that Jones set up an entire record label, allegedly to be able to control aspiring artists and their work, while gaining access to young, vulnerable women.” Predators gonna predator.

Loz also being Loz, he also set himself out an inspirational business coach. His LinkedIn profile was filled with vapid inspirational platitudes straight out of a comedy sketch, and also, links to Quality Internet Content:

“Empowering Women In Tech” while worrying his wedding ring: JFC. You really get a sense of the violent and predatory arrogance at hand here, that a man exposed as a serial predator of young and impressionable women just leaned in, as Sheryl would say, to targeting young and impressionable women.

Anyway, you know how the sidebar on a LinkedIn profile shows you related accounts? Loz’s profile showed Gail’s profile, which said she’s working in –

wait for it –

“children’s designs”.

Jesus Christ, they do like them young and vulnerable, don’t those two.

I mean, it may well be that, having all the money in the world and nothing else to do, she’s made a decision to indulge her ~creative side~. Surely there’s no harm in that, is there?

Of course not.

Until you remember that daddy will be out on remand in nine and a half years and daddy’s going to be hungry and all of those children she’s encountering in her new career, especially the young ladies, are going to be young women.

You’re goddamn right I’m going there. And if that seems a stretch, ask yourself these questions:

Was there ever a single rumour, a whisper, a hint, or something that just didn’t feel right about the Jones’ behaviour that didn’t turn out to be 120% true?

Was there ever a single thing they did that wasn’t hinted at in full public view and in plain sight?

One? Single? Thing?

No, there wasn’t.

You see, maybe the truth is that when you’ve pivoted your life’s work from being a serious businesswoman to being a predatory rape enabler, making sure that daddy gets what daddy wants is, as Loz and Gail once said to me, a Hard Habit to Break.

See her man there? He could have been stopped decades before he was if just one person had stood up and pointed and said “no.”

So consider me that person, today, standing up and pointing at a couple who clearly have a hard habit to break going on between the two of them, and saying, quite simply,

No. No you don’t.

Not today, not tomorrow, not anytime.

Because I see you.

We all see you.

You may be a spineless coward, Gail, but I’m not.

So why don’t you come out of your many luxury properties, without your PRs or PAs or your MUAs, or your mummy and daddy, or your in-house lawyers threatening your victims with their NDAS, or your SLAPPy law firms threatening everyone who ever spoke out about daddy even after the criminal charges had been filed,

and explain yourself.

In fact, Gail:

come on if you think you’re hard enough.

Loz and Gail’s idea of school shoes, there.

….

So, it being IWD and all that, what are the actions we can all commit to here?

First, we all need to take collective responsibility to make sure that no Gail Jones ever exists again, much less is allowed to go near anyone’s else daughters.

Second, we all need to take collective responsibility to call out the Gails of this world – the ones for whom “empowering women in tech” is a punch down rather than a hand up – even if they do start out as mere Sheryls.

And third, it’s to create a thousand amazing, meaningful women for every one useless Gail.

Because in having these tricky conversations with my daughter about how the world works, and how women openly enable some of the worst men on the planet, I’ve learned that the most impactful thing I can do is teach her about amazing women too.

I tell her about women in tech and in leadership who really are in it for good, and who neither speak for nor apologise on behalf of any man, and who choose to lift up the women around them rather than push them down.

I send her the writings of women like Maria Farrell, and Meredith Whittaker, and Rachel Coldicutt, and watch the gears turning in her head as she takes it all in.

I introduce her to my brilliant friends like Jenny Wong, and Rian Rietveld, and Juliette Reinders-Folmer, and get them chatting about her future.

I want her to know about all of those amazing women, in this world, who want to leave a place that’s better than the one they found, and who ask for nothing – nothing – themselves in return. I want her to learn how love, and dedication, and selflessness all work.

I want her to know their names.

Just as I want her to know about all of those other women, in this world, who build luxury lifestyles for themselves on the backs of the competent women they’ve broken. I want her to learn how power, and greed, and control all work.

I want her to know their names too.

The funny old thing about parenthood, these days, is that your kid googles you. They read all your blog posts and policy papers and media spots. Some of my work she finds quite funny; after all, the well-dressed woman speaking in front of an audience is a very different person than the tired mum slouched across from her at Starbucks. Some of it she finds genuinely interesting, and she starts asking me questions far tougher than any audience, or boss, ever did.

But all of it, in its own way, starts a new journey, somewhere in that grown adult’s mind. I didn’t intend to leave a path in front of her. But apparently, somehow, I did.

That’s the thing, Gail. Your kids figure out who you are.

That’s the path you’ve left in front of them.

Or, as you and the love of your life once said to me, during your many years of preying together on young women in plain sight, when every finger you pointed was really a confession of your darkest marital secret:

the next time you attack a young lady unnecessarily, remember just how sensitive you are.


If you were a victim of Lawrence and Gail Jones, pick up the phone:

St. Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre provides a comprehensive and co-ordinated response to men, women and children who live or have been sexually assaulted within Greater Manchester. They offer forensic medical examinations, practical and emotional support as well as a counselling service for all ages. Services are available on a 24-hour basis and can be accessed by calling 0161 276 6515.

Greater Manchester Rape Crisis is a confidential information, support and counselling service run by women for women over 18 who have been raped or sexually abused at any time in their lives. Call on 0161 273 4500 or email help@manchesterrapecrisis.co.uk

We Are Survivors provides specialist trauma informed support to male victims in Greater Manchester who have experienced sexual abuse, rape, or sexual exploitation. Call 0161 236 2182.

Please also contact Madison Marriage at the Financial Times, because what came out in public about these two is only a fraction of what there really is, and this story is not over yet. It’s your voice that may bring it to an end. That’s your power. Take it.

If you want to talk to me, I provide two ears and one mouth, in that order.

The Author

I’m a UK tech policy wonk based in Glasgow. I work for an open web built around international standards of human rights, privacy, accessibility, and freedom of expression. The content and opinions on this site are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of any current or previous team.