Pete Townshend has broken his nine year silence on the child pornography scandal that threatened to derail his career. The legendary guitarist with The Who was arrested for downloading images of abused children, though has always maintained it was for research reasons.

Now, speaking about the storm in detail for the first time, Townshend still insists he was trying to prove that British banks were complicit in channelling profits from paedophile rings. However, the rocker concedes that he was “insane” to download the images, though when asked why he didn’t speak out sooner said, “Because there was no sense of 'the truth will out'. I've had the misfortune to read online comments where I'm judged as a paedophile because I've got a big nose.” In his new memoir – which is to be serialised in The Times – the guitarist admits he felt suicidal after his vilification in the media, writing, “If I had a gun I would have shot myself…It really did feel like a lynching.”

Before his arrest in 2003, Townshend had posted numerous essays on his personal website as part of his campaign against the widespread availability of child pornography on the internet.