After an investigation that lasted nearly four months, police in London cleared Pete Townshend yesterday on charges that he downloaded child porn from the Internet. Computer equipment seized by officials from Scotland Yard at the time the Who guitarist's arrest in January failed to turn up any illicit downloads, police said. Investigators did confirm that Townshend had accessed a site containing such images in 1999; as a result, he was listed on a national register of sex offenders.
"From the very beginning," Townshend said in a statement, "I acknowledged that I did access this site and that I had given the police full access to my computers. As I made clear at the outset, I accessed the site because of my concerns at the shocking material available on the Internet to children as well as adults, and as part of my research toward the campaign I had been putting together since 1995 to counter damage done by all kinds of pornography on the Internet, but especially any involving child abuse."
Just after his arrest -- part of an international Internet porn sting called Operation Ore -- Townshend had maintained he accessed the site to research for his autobigraphy, since he suspected he was abused as a child.
In February, Massive Attack's Robert Del Naja was also arrested as part of Operation Ore. He was also cleared without charge in March.