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A British head teacher who groomed at least 131 children worldwide using social media has been jailed, the National Crime Agency (NCA) has said.
Nicholas Clayton, 38 and from Wirral, used Facebook Messenger to contact children as young as 10, the NCA said.
Clayton, who was working at a school in Iraq, was caught after he asked a 13-year-old boy from Cambodia for photographs of his naked upper torso.
At Liverpool Crown Court on Tuesday he was jailed for 20 months.
Clayton was the principal of an international school in the Kurdistan region of Iraq when he messaged the boy before arranging to pay for him to travel to Malaysia for a meeting.
The NCA received intelligence about the communication and arrested him when he returned to the UK.
Investigators then found Clayton had been messaging hundreds of boys from across the globe, spanning the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Iraq, Morocco, Turkey and others over a period of three months.
Clayton appeared at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court on 23 August where he admitted three counts of sexual communication with a child under 16 years and one charge of inciting the sexual exploitation of a child.
Children’s charity the NSPCC voiced concerns that Meta, which owns Facebook, plans to introduce end-to-end encryption on its messaging platform.
Andy Burrows, head of child safety online policy at the charity, said: “Clayton’s case highlights the ease with which offenders can contact large numbers of children on social media with the intention of grooming and sexually abusing them.
“Private messaging is the frontline of child sexual abuse online. It’s therefore concerning that Meta plans to press on with end-to-end encryption on Facebook Messenger, which will blindfold themselves and law enforcement from identifying criminals like Clayton.
“The UK Government can show global leadership in tackling online child abuse by delivering without delay a robust Online Safety Bill that embeds child protection at the heart of every social media site.”
New Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan has previously said there are no plans to water down the proposals for new internet safety laws, which Mr Burrows welcomed as “really encouraging”.