(Photo by Matthew Baker/Getty Images)

Pete Townshend of The Who has revealed Keir Starmer was the lawyer who challenged him in Townshend’s infamous child pornography case.

In 2003, it was discovered that Townshend had paid to view a child pornography site, which prompted a police investigation. The Who star claimed that it was research for a campaign against pedophilia for his memoir, where Townshend believed he may have been sexually abused as a child: “You have to know what’s out there.”

Shortly before his memoir was published in 2012, Townshend elaborated on the incident. He claimed he had paid £7 to access a child pornography site, which he immediately cancelled, in order to expose the financial chain of child abuse from Russian orphanages. Townshend admitted his actions were “insane”, saying it was a result of “white knight syndrome, an attempt to be seen to be the one that’s helping.” He also revealed he was cautioned and placed on the sex offenders list for five years afterwards.

In a new profile, it was revealed that current Leader of the Opposition Keir Starmer was barrister who challenged Townshend in court. “You know, I made a mistake, but I think I did the right thing,” he told The Independent. “I was challenged by Keir Starmer, who was then in charge of public prosecutions, to either go to court to make my case clear or to accept a caution.”

“I was terrified of going to court. I thought I would be used as a poster boy, so I refused. I took the caution. So legally, there’s an argument that I was guilty of what I was accused of, which was downloading child pornography, which I never did. In fact, I was campaigning and researching and trying to get to a place where I could be useful to point the finger at where it was coming from.”

Townshend was eventually cleared of his charges: “The police have unconditionally accepted that these were my motives in looking at this site and that there was no other nefarious purpose, and as a result they have decided not to charge me.”

The musician also opened up about the impact of the case over his life: “When I do an interview, often the comments refer to it: ‘This guy should be in prison,’” he said. “It comes up a lot. It’s part of my daily life, and it’s painful, but I know the truth, my wife knows the truth. She watched what I was doing.” He then referred readers to his 2002 essay ‘A Different Bomb’, which detailed Townshend’s motives for exposing child pornography rings.

Recently, Townshend released his first single in nearly 30 years. Titled ‘Can’t Outrun The Truth’, the song was created so its proceeds could be donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust, whose annual concerts at the Royal Albert Hall had been axed during the pandemic.

“So, the idea of doing this, which is it’s something that has sprung out of Lockdown about mental illness, but also for this particular charity,” Townshend said. “If you’ve got a scenario in which somebody in your family or a teenager has got cancer, they’re being treated, Lockdown hits, and you’re not allowed to go and visit them. There’s a poignancy to the whole thing about the song.”

The post Pete Townshend was challenged by Keir Starmer in child pornography case appeared first on NME.


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