‘What I did was insane’: The Who’s Pete Townshend breaks nine year silence on child pornography scandal
- Townshend was one of 3,744 people arrested in UK as part of Operation Ore, a nationwide police crackdown on internet perverts
- He was cautioned and put on sex offenders’ register for five years
- Reveals details about scandal, being abused himself and The Who in new memoir Who I Am
- Also claims Mick Jagger is ‘very well-endowed’
He insisted at the time that he had simply been conducting ‘research’ when he paid £7 with his credit card in 1999 to access a website bearing the message ‘click here for child porn’.
Despite his denials of harbouring depraved desires, he accepted a police caution, and was duly placed on the sex offenders’ register for five years.
His image has never fully recovered, although he did play at the Olympics closing ceremony this summer, along with The Who’s only other surviving original band member, lead singer Roger Daltrey.
He has now broken his silence on the issue, as he promotes his new autobiography, Who I Am.
Speaking to The Times, Townshend said that he had struggled to express himself in the book because his actions seemed ‘insane’, even to him.
He said that when the police raided his home in 2003 after combing through the records of a US company hosting child porn sites, his main concern was just that they would read his diaries, featuring dilemmas about which yacht or flash car to splash out on, and think he was ‘a self-obsessed prat’.
Instead, he found himself condemned as a paedophile around the world.
Asked why he chose not to go to court to declare his innocence, he said he was simply ‘exhausted’ at the time and had been given just half an hour by officers at Kingston police station to decide whether to accept the caution.
He said he and his lawyers were ‘surprised’ by the police’s decision because they had all believed he would be let off.
He added that he thought prosecution lawyers would ‘****ing rip me apart’ if he went to court.
In his autobiography, he describes how the media storm about the scandal began, saying: ‘If I’d had a gun I would have shot myself, just to escape the lynching.’
Asked how seriously he considered suicide, Towns-hend said it was ‘only for a moment’ but added that he had despaired because he was not given any sense that the truth behind his actions would come out.
He added that he had since been plagued by fears that the publicity could lead to baseless further accusations.
Townshend explained: ‘Imagine three or four girls coming along and saying, “I had sex with Pete in the Sixties, when he was 25 and I was 12”. I know it didn’t happen, but when you’re a pop star people say all kinds of things.
‘I get lots of pictures of children with big noses who claim I’m their dad.’
TOWNSHEND’S BIG REVELATION ABOUT MICK JAGGER
Keith Richards famously claimed it was ‘tiny’ in his memoir Life. Now Mick Jagger may be relieved to hear that Pete Townshend has added quite a different description of the Rolling Stone’s manhood in new memoir Who I Am.
According to The Times, Townshend describes Jagger as ‘very well-endowed’ after clocking him in loose pyjama-style trousers without any underwear in 1969. Speaking about the revelation, Townshend said: ‘I did do that very deliberately. Let’s hope it gets the same amount of publicity second time round.
The songwriter said that he had been seeking to help victims of sexual abuse since 1976, which is when he set up the Double-O charity.
In his autobiography, Towns-hend details how when he was six, his musician parents sent him from their London home to live with his mentally ill grandmother Denny in Westgate On Sea, Kent.
He claims she was promiscuous and invited a succession of men to the house.
He recalled: ‘She wouldn’t let me have a lock on my door, which was terrifying.
‘She had one guy that looked like Adolf Hitler, with a little moustache, his hair brushed to the side and a withered arm. He would sit me on his lap and I had to call him Uncle.
‘I don’t want to say I was sexually abused just because it’s convenient to explain why I’m so … complicated, but I also don’t want to deny that what feels to me happened did happen.
‘Not that I was brutally raped, but something very creepy was going on.’
The experience may have been a spur for ‘wicked Uncle Ernie’, the disturbing paedophile character in the 1969 Who album and later cult film, Tommy.
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