Former church minister jailed after ‘preying’ on children on Grindr dating app
United Reformed Church Reverend Hugh Graham had downloaded thousands of indecent images of children
11 February, 2021 — By Bronwen Weatherby
A FORMER church minister has been jailed for targeting children on a dating app and downloading thousands of indecent images.
Reverend Hugh Graham, who had previously served at the St Andrews’ United Reformed Church in Hampstead, was messaging with at least two children on the Grindr dating app before caught by a police officer posing as a 13-year-old boy.
In one message to a victim, Graham referred to himself as “an open-minded perv”, but said he was “not really interested in toddlers”.
In another message he advised on how to find videos and pictures on the dark web.
Graham also wrote: “I’m hoping you aren’t a gang of blokes trying to trap me. I could get into trouble for chatting to you lol.”
The 60-year-old was arrested at his home in Kentish Town in December 2019. Police seized two laptops, an iPhone, memory cards and a USB stick. All of which were found to contain illegal images.
Revd Graham was minister at St Andrew’s from 2013
In total, more than 35,000 illegal images of children, including 781 CGI or cartoon prohibited images of children, were found in his possession.
Many of the images contained children as young as three years old and included children that were handcuffed.
One of the laptops showed that its user had been viewing such material since 2012.
According to St Andrews Frognal’s website, Graham took over at the church in 2013. He also had responsibility for Trinity URC in Camden Town and Regent Square URC in central London.
A statement from The United Reform Church today said Graham was suspended from all duties following his arrest.
He pleaded guilty to attempting to arrange the commission of a child sex offence, attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity, possessing an extreme pornographic image, possession of prohibited images of children as well as three counts of making indecent photos of children and three counts of attempted sexual communication with a child.
The offences took place between May 2018 and December 2019.
He was sentenced to four years in prison in Snaresbrook Crown Court today (Thursday).
He was also given a sexual harm prevention order and placed on the sex offender’s register.
Paul Addison, from the CPS, said: “Hugh Graham was a trusted and respected member of the community who thought he could hide his criminality behind a screen.
“He preyed on children for his own sexual gratification and used Grindr and the dark web to feed his addiction. Graham knew what he was doing was wrong and he will now have to accept the consequences of his actions.
“The CPS will continue to work with the police and other partners to prosecute those who fuel the sexual exploitation of children.”
The New Journal understands members of the local church were unaware of Graham’s offences and had not been told by The United Reformed Church about why they no longer had a minister.
A statement from The Revd Andrew Prasad, Moderator of the United Reformed Church’s Thames North Synod, said the church is “shocked at the offences committed by the Revd Hugh Graham”.
He said: “Mr Graham was suspended from all duties following his arrest in December 2019, part of the Church’s long-established disciplinary processes. Following the outcome of court proceedings, our internal disciplinary processes will now conclude.
“The URC has robust safeguarding procedures in place, and throughout this case has worked closely with the authorities.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been affected by this case.”