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Pete's interview in The Sun

On line at:

Cops can come and get me 
Showbiz Editor

WHO star Pete Townshend last night told The Sun he
wants cops to come into his home and check his
computer for child porn.

The rock legend, 57, admitted he had looked at porn
sites three or four times after accidentally stumbling
across one.

He said he had been driven to see what sort of
material they contained for research and out of anger
at how easy they were to access.

But in a world exclusive interview with The Sun, he
insisted he was NOT a paedophile and that his actions
had been stupid rather than sinister.

The millionaire spoke out after it emerged at the
weekend that a British rockers credit card details
were on a list of subscribers to a vile website in

The list, compiled by US authorities, included some
7,000 British names passed to police in this country. 

Townshend said: I am not making any excuses. I am
angry about child porn on the internet, and deeply
wounded at the inference that I might be a paedophile.

I have looked at child porn sites maybe three or four
times in all, the front pages and previews.

But I have only entered once using a credit card and
I have never downloaded. With hindsight it was very
foolish but I felt so angered about what was going on
it blurred my judgement.

Townshend said he spoke to a lawyer friend about
visiting the sites and had been advised to keep

He was outraged when he first came across them while
surfing the Net with son Joseph, now 16, about six
years ago.

And he stressed: I have never purchased any forms of
child pornography or wished to own any. I saw the
first awful photo by accident. It repelled me and
shocked me to my very core. 

I was not breaking the law at the time. This was in
the winter of 1996/1997. It was then illegal to
download, which I did not do, not to search and view. 

I did not think using a credit card was illegal
either at the time. As a public figure I would never
have given details had I known I would be breaking UK

I need to regain the trust of police and authorities
involved in protecting children to continue to use my
energies and determination to help what they do. 

Townshend, who believes he was abused himself as a
little boy, went on:

If my therapy revealed anything, it indicated that I
might regard myself as the victim of paedophiles.

I was stupid to try to deal with my anger about child
porn on the internet alone.

We must try to stop it but if we cant do that we
should invest our energy in helping victims of abuse.
I believe I may have suffered some sexual abuse which
makes me angry about all this stuff.

If my celebrity has a value perhaps it is to get the
reality of this problem once and for all back into the
public mind.

Ive never been attracted to children. My own abuse is
half-remembered, and I now think was probably at the
hands of a male guest of my maternal grandmother when
I was living with her while my parents tried to work
out a marriage problem.  

The star applauded the arrest and jailing of pop
figures Jonathan King, who preyed on teenage boys, and
Gary Glitter, who had vile computer porn.

He said: Chasing after people like Gary Glitter and
Jonathan King is important, and it is important that
the police are able to convince themselves that  if I
did anything illegal  I did it purely for research. I
am not a paedophile.

Referring to Operation Ore, the huge police probe into
the subscribers, he said: I agree with what the
police are doing. No, I did not expect to be targeted
in their swoops. 

"Foolish of me, but not arrogant. I sincerely believed
that the police would know my history as someone who
works tirelessly to help the abused, and that since
1978 I have run a charity which has contributed
millions to organisations working to prevent violence
and abuse.

Townshend said he had received support from star pals
including David Bowie, Jerry Hall, Bob Geldof and

He also said he had spoken yesterday to Jackie Malton,
formerly a Detective Chief Inspector based in Londons
Fulham, with whom he discussed child pornography last

He said: She reminded me of our conversation and said
she would be willing to speak to my lawyer or the

Townshend said that in the past he contacted the
National Crime Squad and had hoped to work with
Scotland Yard and the NSPCC to front a website warning
of the Net dangers.

This idea never got off the ground but Townshend
revealed he would be willing to turn his back on his
music career and dedicate the rest of his life to work
against child abuse.

He said: I want to live my life, enjoy my family and
continue with my work. 

But if all I can do from now on is fight the sexual
abuse of children, and to help those who become
victims, well that wouldnt be too bad a way of living
the rest of my life.

Townshend said he looked at the porn sites as research
for a book he is writing. He went on: 

Part of my story is about a young man who helps to
invent a specially powerful version of the internet to
raise spiritual awareness by using music. 

At heart I think the internet is a wonderful thing.

But it is allowing child porn to be circulated freely
around the world, crossing borders, allowing laws to
be ignored, and there are real children behind the
images, children like I was. 

I have not heard from the police yet. I am anxious
that they can discriminate the man I am today from the
young tearaway I used to be. Thanks Dominic for giving
me this chance to speak. 

There was little movement around Townshends
#15million mansion in Richmond, South West London,

Blinds stayed closed and his silver Mercedes ML55
remained in a lane.

His ex-wife Karen, a 57-year-old music company
director, refused to comment outside her home in
nearby Twickenham.

Last night pop experts warned Townshend might never
recover from the incident.

Chart guru Pete Waterman said: Its something you
cant live with. Even if he is totally innocent youve
got the stigma.

Bob McLachlan, ex-head of Scotland Yards paedophilia
unit, said Townshend would never be convicted unless
police got hold of his computer.

Mr McLachlan said claiming to be doing research was a
classic defence of paedophiles.

And attacking police delays in carrying out the
investigation, he said there had been adequate time
and warning to get rid of any evidence.

Additional reporting by MIKE SULLIVAN and EMILY SMITH

-Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!
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