A Hale Barns businessman denied claims he "raped" two women after he "stupefied" them with drugs.

Lawrence Jones was working as a piano player at the time of the alleged incidents during the 1990s.

Now Jones, of Brooks Drive, is a businessman best known as the founder of UKFast Ltd. He denies two counts of rape for which he is on trial at Manchester Crown Court this week.

On Monday, the 55-year-old addressed the jury for the first time under examination from his lawyer, Eleanor Laws KC, and cross-examination from the prosecutor, Eloise Marshall KC.

On the first woman, of whom the defendant denied all knowledge, Ms Laws asked: "Do you remember anything sexual happening with her?"

"No," said Jones.

Ms Laws said: "Did you drug her?"

Jones said: "No, absolutely not."

Ms Laws said: "Did you rape her?"

"No," said Jones.

On the second woman, of whom the defendant said he knew well, Ms Laws asked: "Did you rape her?"

Jones said: "No, absolutely not."

Jones admitted he took amyl nitrate – or poppers – at the time of the alleged incidents but only occasionally and, if during sex with someone, only with their full consent and full knowledge.

He said it was "a fuzzy feeling" but denied the second woman's suggestion he gave her something to sniff to relax her and to rape her.

Ms Marshall said: "Within minutes she was out of it because you knew the effect of it?"

Jones said: "It didn't happen."

Ms Marshall said: "Just long enough for you to have sex with her for about 30 seconds."

Jones said: "It didn't happen. It never happened."

Jones denies two counts of rape.

The trial at Manchester Crown Court, before Judge Sarah Johnston, continues this week.

This article was written by Jack Tooth. To contact him, email jack.tooth@newsquest.co.uk or follow @JTRTooth on Twitter.