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Rocker's claims `inconsistent'
Keith Mcleod

ROCKER Pete Townshend's defence for visiting a child
porn website was branded "inconsistent" by police last

The Who legend says he was only researching a book,
and insists that he spoke to police about paying to
get into the site.

But it has emerged that dad-of-three Townshend only
talked to a retired detective, now an adviser on ITV's
The Bill.

A spokesman for Townshend said the star spoke to
Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Malton in October
2002 about his investigation of child porn on the

But Scotland Yard said later: "There are
inconsistencies in what he appears to be saying. DCI
Malton retired in 1997."

Townshend, 57, could face up to five years in jail if
charged with downloading child porn.

DCI Malton is thought to have inspired the Jane
Tennison character in TV's Prime Suspect.

A respected officer, she retired after 30 years

She issued a statement yesterday, saying: "I told him
[Townshend] he had two choices.

"He could contact a former colleague of mine who had
joined the National Crime Squad as a computer expert,
or contact the paedophile squad at Scotland Yard."

Police will talk to Ms Malton today about her
conversation with Townshend.

A senior Scotland Yard officer dismissed Townshend's
excuse for visiting the child porn website.

The insider said: "If you download this type of
pornography, you are committing a crime and should be

Another possible problem with Townshend's story is his
account of when he spoke to Ms Malton.

It emerged in August last year that the FBI had tipped
off police about UK citizens who used credit cards to
get into US paedophile sites.

That suggests Townshend was a suspect before he spoke
to Ms Malton in October.

Sources say Townshend's name, credit card details and
email address were on a list of more than 7000
suspects passed to police from the States.

The list is being used in Operation Ore, Britain's
biggest ever crackdown on internet paedophiles.

Townshend says he visited a site advertising child
porn while working on a book about his own abusive

But his mum said she knew nothing about his claim that
he was molested.

Betty Townshend said: "If what he says is true he has
carried it privately, even away from his mother and

Townshend issued a statement on Saturday after reports
that police were investigating a rock star.

He insisted: "I am not a paedophile.

"On one occasion, I used a credit card to enter a site
advertising child porn.

"I did this purely to see what was there."

Townshend added: "I believe I was sexually abused
between the age of five and six and a half when in the
care of my maternal grandmother. She was mentally ill
at the time.

"I cannot remember clearly what happened but my
creative work tends to throw up nasty shadows -
particularly in Tommy."

The hero of The Who's rock opera is abused by his
Uncle Ernie.

Townshend gave the statement to reporters at his
#8million London mansion.

He wrote: "I have been shocked, angry and vocal
(especially on my website) about the explosion of
paedophilic images on the internet."

Townshend hopes to publish his book this year. He said
it would make clear that "if I have any compulsions in
this area, they are to try to deal openly with my
anger and vengeance towards the mentally ill people
who find paedophilic pornography attractive".

Before issuing his statement, Townshend came to his
door in a dressing gown and spoke to reporters.

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

"I've been in touch with Scotland Yard to tell them
what I was doing but no officers have contacted me.

"I'm waiting for the police to talk to me but they
haven't been round. I'm going to talk to my lawyers to
see what happens next. I was worried this might
happen. I think this could be the most damaging thing
to my career."

Townshend admitted he was into adult porn. He said:
"I've used it all my life."

Soon after, he drove off in a Mercedes, saying: "I'm
going to see my son.

"I've been warned about campaigning about this. I'm
hoping this will go away."

Townshend spent yesterday holed up at home, talking to
friends and his lawyers.

His brother Paul, 47, said of the scandal: "I'm not
bothered about any of this.

"I know what Pete was up to and we have proof which
will have him completely exonerated. It will come out
in the next couple of days."

Betty, 79, said: "We are a loving Christian family and
will continue to stand by Pete."

Despite Betty's denials, Paul insisted the star did
tell his family he'd been abused.

He said: "It came out as a result of his book. He told
the family what to expect when it was published."

An internet watchdog said Townshend's visit to the
website was "incredibly foolhardy, naive and

Mark Stephens, of the Internet Watch Foundation, said:
"It is wrong-headed, misguided and illegal to look at,
download, or pay to download this material.

"If you do so, you are likely to go to prison."

Townshend's ex-wife Karen and daughters Emma, 32, and
Aminta, 31, refused to comment on the scandal. He also
has a son Joseph, 16.

A spokesman for Townshend said the star had not
downloaded any pornographic images of children.

He added: "Obviously this is very difficult for him.
He's dealing with it as best he can.

"As far as we're aware there hasn't been contact from
the police. There are no plans for Pete to visit a
police station."

A Scotland Yard spokes-man would only say: "We don't
discuss individuals."

Rocker Gary Glitter was jailed for four months in 1999
for downloading child porn. And singer, record
producer and broadcaster Jonathan King got seven years
jail in 2001 for sex attacks on five boys.

-Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!
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