What the hell is it with these rock star types and child porn? First Gary (no, we don’t want to be in your gang thank you very much) Glitter, then Jonathan King, and now it’s Pete Townshend. In the interests of fair reporting, I’d like to make clear that Kenneth George King (his real name) and Paul Gadd (Glitter’s real name) are convicted criminals, whereas Mr Townshend has simply admitted paying for access to a child porn site. Interestingly, in the Who’s rock musical Tommy, there is an uncle who “fiddles about” (that link goes to the lyrics, by the way, in case you were worried about clicking it!) with his nephew. Maybe we should have taken more notice, in retrospect.

Two former Labour ministers too! Now, I know that politicians tend towards sexual perversity—who can forget the Conservative MP found dead in particularly odd circumstances 1 —but child porn is pushing the sordid envelope too far.

Having said which, I wonder if there isn’t something more here. I mean, who would actually be stupid enough to pay for something so manifestly illegal by credit card? The online porn business has a high chargeback rate (the proportion of card transactions that are disputed or rejected), so it is difficult for such operations to get merchant bank accounts. A large number of operators therefore use billing companies, or run a large number of apparently different sites through the same business. That would be one possibility in this case, and the fact that people may have been paying for legitimate porn sites rather than illegal ones should at least be considered before the inevitable media feeding frenzy begins. In that case, they would be guilty of no more that simple naivety—there’s so much porn on the internet, why would you ever pay for it?!

1. To refresh your memory, Stephen Milligan MP was found dead in his flat in London in 1994, semi-nude and wearing women’s underwear. He had a piece of orange in his mouth, and a cord around his neck and ankles, suggesting death by auto-erotic asphyxiation. Don’t try this at home, kids! Watching the news must have been an embarrassing ordeal for parents of inquisitive children... Incidentally, an open verdict was recorded at the inquest into his death, so we can’t be sure what really happened.