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 Sunday, 12 January, 2003, 06:03 GMT
I'm no paedophile, says Who star
Pete Townshend
Townshend was a founder member of The Who
Rock legend Pete Townshend has admitted paying to view a child pornography site on the internet but said he did so "just to see what was there".

The star's admission came after a UK newspaper report said a British musician was among those identified by a US police investigation for downloading child pornography from the internet.

The Who guitarist, speaking from his home in Richmond, London, strongly denied being a paedophile and said police were aware he had studied child pornography but only for research.

I am not a paedophile - I think paedophilia is appalling

Pete Townshend

A report in Saturday's Daily Mail said details of an internationally-famous musician had been passed to police investigating an American pay-per-view porn ring.

Campaign

In a statement Mr Townshend emphasised his "anger and vengeance towards the mentally ill people who find paedophilic pornography attractive".

The 57-year-old, who is married with children, said: "I am not a paedophile. I think paedophilia is appalling."

"To fight against paedophilia, you have to know what's out there," he said.

Pete Townshend
The guitarist believes he may have been abused himself as a child

"I have been involved in a campaign against paedophilia on the internet but it fizzled out."

The Daily Mail report said Scotland Yard officers were investigating the celebrity - whom the paper did not name - and deciding whether to make an arrest.

But Mr Townshend said he had already been in contact with police.

"I've been in touch with Scotland Yard to tell them what I was doing.

Acting as 'vigilante'

"I have contacted them but no police officers have contacted me.

"I am waiting for the police to talk to me but they haven't been round."

He said he had highlighted his work on paedophilia on his website.

I was worried this might happen and I think this could be the most damaging thing to my career

Pete Townshend

And he said that through his research, he felt it was his duty to "act as a vigilante to help support organisations like the Internet Watch Foundation, the NSPCC and Scotland Yard".

"I think I may have been sexually abused as a child and I was doing research into it.

"I've been writing my life story and the research is for a book," he said.

No comment

But he added: "I was worried this might happen and I think this could be the most damaging thing to my career."

Adult porn had been a life-long interest, said Mr Townshend, a founder member of The Who.

He said he would be speaking to his lawyers, and added: "I want to clear my name."

Scotland Yard refused to comment.

A spokesman said: "We can't confirm that we are investigating a British rock star. We don't discuss individuals."

The Daily Mail said the name, credit card details and e-mail address of the unnamed star were contained in a list of 7,000 people passed to British police by the US Postal Service after the pay-per-view service was smashed.

Police operation

British police are conducting their largest-ever investigation, code-named Operation Ore, into online paedophilia and child pornography.

So far, about 1,300 people, including a judge, magistrates, dentists, hospital consultants and a deputy headmaster, have been arrested.

Some 50 police officers have also been arrested and eight of them charged with offences, including two officers involved in the police investigation into the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

A spokesman for the National Criminal Intelligence Service said the files of anybody suspected of downloading pornographic material from the internet were being sent to relevant police forces around the country for further investigation.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Mike Sergeant
"The guitarist says it was only for research"
See also:

03 Dec 99 | Entertainment
02 Jul 02 | Entertainment
28 Jun 02 | Entertainment
28 Jun 02 | Entertainment
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