'I am not a paedophile': Pete Townshend of The Who denies child porn allegations

Pete Townshend of The Who yesterday denied he was a paedophile in the face of claims he is under police investigation for downloading child pornography from the internet.

In a statement, he admitted he had paid to "enter an internet site advertising child pornography". But he insisted he had only looked at the website for research for his autobiography because he feared he had been sexually abused as a young child.

"I am not a paedophile. I think paedophilia is appalling," he said.

The name, credit card details and email address of the multi-millionaire guitarist and songwriter are understood to have been included on a list of 7,000 names handed to British police following an FBI investigation into subscribers to a US pay-per-view website involving children as young as two.

Scotland Yard refuses to comment on claims that he was being investigated as part of Operation Ore, Britain's largest operation into internet paedophilia. "We can't confirm that we are investigating a British rock star. We don't discuss individuals," said a spokesman.

Last night, the National Criminal Intelligence Service, which set up Operation Ore, also said it did not comment on individual cases. "There are a lot of people who think they are not harming anyone [by looking at child pornography]," he said. "As soon as they pay over that money ... they are subscribing to the abuse of children."