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Police arrest Townshend
20.30PM GMT, 13 Jan 2003

Rock star Pete Townshend has been formally arrested by
police in connection with child pornography offences.

He was arrested on suspicion of possessing indecent
images of children, suspicion of making indecent
images of children and suspicion of incitement to
distribute indecent images of children.

Townshend has admitted using his credit card on one
occasion to view a site advertising child porn "purely
to see what was there" and insisted he was not a

Earlier, Townshend was interviewed by police at his
mansion at the top of Richmond Hill, southwest London.

He is currently in custody at a south-west London
police station. A Scotland Yard spokesman said that
two arrest warrants were executed at separate
addresses in Richmond, Surrey.

"One address is a business address and the other is
residential. A number of items, including computers,
have been removed from the residential address for
forensic examination.

"The Met are not discussing the matter further.
Officers from the major investigations team, part of
the Child Protection command, are conducting the

Townshend left his house at the top of Richmond Hill,
southwest London, by a side entrance at 7.20pm and was
driven off in a metallic blue Toyota Corolla. He was
wearing a black jacket and was unshaven.

"They are probably going to go through the formalities
tonight and then call him back at a future date after
they have investigated further," the spokesman said.

"It's possible they may take a statement tonight but
that depends on his state of mind and whether it's in
everyone's interests."

Townshend's solicitor John Cohen told reporters
earlier: "We are meeting police at the house at 3pm.
It's by mutual agreement. We approached the police
this morning and said that we should meet."

Twenty minutes later police, including computer
forensics officers, arrived with a search warrant.

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman at the scene said: "There
will be a thorough and detailed search of the
premises. It will take as long as necessary."

The development came after Townshend said he was ready
to hand his computer over to the police to prove he
was not a paedophile.

He said he wanted police to visit his home and check
his computer for child porn.

He said he looked at the front pages and previews of
child pornography sites perhaps three or four times
after accidentally stumbling across one.

But the star said he never downloaded the material and
only entered a site once, using a credit card, purely
as part of research for a book he plans to publish
later this year.

"I am not a paedophile. I'd be prepared to have my
computer hard drive analysed.

"It's important police are able to convince themselves
that if I did anything illegal I did it purely for
research," he told The Sun.

Since his frank admission at the weekend, Townshend
has been rounded on by Internet Watchdogs, who
dismissed his explanation for illegally entering the
website as "no excuse".

Mark Stephens, a lawyer and vice chairman of the
Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) said: "If you want to
help children you don't pay money to a child porn

"We strongly discourage anyone from actively seeking
out these images of child abuse because it is against
the law."

Townshend - idolised by fans of The Who since the
1960's - said that he had been "deeply wounded" by
suspicions that he was a paedophile.

The star, who has been publicly supported by many
celebrity friends, said he had been writing his
childhood autobiography for the past seven years.

He believed he had been sexually abused between the
age of five and six-and-a-half when in the care of his
maternal grandmother who was mentally ill at the time.

It comes as police conduct their largest ever
investigation into online paedophilia, code-named
Operation Ore.

About 1,300 people, including a judge, magistrates,
dentists, hospital consultants and a deputy headmaster
have so far been arrested after their credit card
details came up on a list of subscribers to a website
in Texas.

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

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

In 1999 disgraced pop star Gary Glitter was jailed for
four months after indecent pictures of children were
found on his laptop computer.

Last week the former glam rock star, real name Paul
Gadd, was deported from Cambodia.

In another case, singer, record producer and
broadcaster Jonathan King was jailed for seven years
in 2001 for sex attacks on five boys.

-Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!
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