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Mum's shock at star claims
Keith Mcleod

THE Pete Townshend paedophile scandal deepened
yesterday when his mum said she knew nothing about his
claim that he was abused as a boy.

The Who guitarist says he only visited a child porn
website to research a book about his abusive

But Betty Townshend said: "I am unaware he had
suffered abuse. If what he says is true he has carried
it privately, even away from his mother and father."

Townshend, a father of three, could face up to five
years in jail if charged with looking at child porn.

However, he insisted that he had only tried to expose
the trade. He said in a statement: "I am not a

"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 Who's rock opera includes a scene when Tommy is
abused by his Uncle Ernie.

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

Sources say his name, credit card details and email
address were on a list of more than 7000 suspects
passed to police by the US Postal Service. Most child
porn websites are US-based.

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

Townshend gave the statement to reporters outside his
#8million mansion in Richmond, London.

He wrote: "I have never entered chat rooms to converse
with children.

"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

Townshend said he felt it was his duty to act as a
"vigilante" over child porn.

He added: "I don't want it to be available on the
inter- net anywhere, at any time."

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

"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."

He then closed the door. Soon after, he drove off in a
Mercedes, saying through the window: "I'm going to see
my son.

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

Townshend spent yesterday holed up at home, talking to
friends and his lawyers. A neighbour said: "Pete is
desperately upset about all the attention but he
believes he did the right thing by identifying

Townshend's brother Paul, 47, dismissed the scandal.
He said: "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."

Paul said Townshend's personal assistant told police
in October that the star had visited the child sex

The officer involved, Detective Chief Inspector Jackie
Malton, confirmed the conversation.

She said she told Townshend to contact either the
paedophile squad at Scotland Yard, or a former
colleague of hers who specialised in tracking computer

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."

Mr Stephens said any abuse Townshend suffered did not
justify him breaking the law. He added: "He has
admitted a criminal offence.

"It's for a court to accept if he was doing research
or something worse."

Mr Stephens said experts were fighting child porn and
it wasn't Townshend's job to investigate on his own.

Townshend said in his statement that he had spoken to
a lawyer friend about his visit to the website.

Mr Stephens said that if that was true, the friend
should be "taken out and kicked".

He added: "He should have said, `This is entirely
wrong, Pete. You have committed a criminal offence and
you need to deal with it.'"

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

Townshend is the latest rock star to face a paedophile

Gary Glitter was jailed for four months in 1999 for
downloading child porn.

The shamed star was deported last week from his
bolthole in Cambodia, where police are fighting a
massive child-sex trade.

Singer, record producer and broadcaster Jonathan King
got seven years jail in 2001 for sex attacks on five

-Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!
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