| Pete Townshend on his way to Twickenham police station on Monday. (Reuters)
London, Jan. 14 (Reuters): The arrest of British rocker Pete Townshend has thrown a spotlight on the growing scourge of paedophilia and sparked a guessing-game about who will be named next in a massive crackdown on child porn.
The 57-year-old guitarist from The Who was hiding from the public gaze today after the overnight humiliation of being driven to a police station for questioning over indecent images of children.
Townshend — who has admitted viewing child pornography but only for research purposes — was released on bail in the early hours. “I am not a paedophile,” he has repeatedly insisted.
His is the highest-profile case to be made public yet of the 1,300 arrests British police have made since last summer as they trawl through a list of some 6,500 Britons suspected of illegally accessing Internet sites.
“This is a problem which goes right across society,” a police source close to Operation Ore said. “You name the occupation and there will be someone there connected to this.”
Shockingly, 50 policemen have even been named — including two who took part in last summer’s inquiry into the murder of two schoolgirls in the rural village of Soham.
Others include teachers, social workers and magistrates.
One of Britain’s most notorious offenders is former glam rock star Gary Glitter, who served four months in jail in 1999 for downloading child pornography. He was kicked out of Cambodia earlier this month.
And pop impresario Jonathan King, who topped the charts and discovered several acts including Genesis and 10cc, was jailed for seven years in 2001 for sexually abusing teenage boys. British media was awash with speculation today that other high-profile figures from the arts, and two prominent politicians, were also on the Operation Ore list of suspects.
But police were staying tight-lipped. Their list was drawn up with records obtained by a US swoop on a Texas-based Internet child porn ring.