Pop star Phil Collins has fallen victim to false rumours that he is being investigated in connection with child porn allegations.
Police spoke out to clear the singer after unfounded speculation led to a growing Press encampment outside his Swiss mansion.
They categorically stated that Phil Collins was not involved in any way in the Swiss equivalent of Operation Ore, the British end of a worldwide probe into child porn on the internet.The singer's lawyers also received confirmation from UK police that he was not being investigated by them and was not suspected of any offence.
It is thought the rumour started because the Swiss investigation is codenamed Operation Genesis, the same name as the star's former group
The whispers swept across the world in the wake of revelations about Who star Pete Townshend, arrested on Monday after his credit card details were passed to Scotland Yard by US investigators. He said that he was doing research for a book.
Once the false rumour about Collins spread, scores of journalists descended on his £20m mansion near Geneva, which Phil, 51, rents from Jackie Stewart.
Police in the Vaud region were inundated with media inquiries. Yesterday a Swiss newspaper, Le Matin, reported how the star had been wrongly named. Police spokesman Jean-Christophe Sauterel said: "Phil Collins is not a suspect in any inquiry in Vaud or Switzerland. We have interviewed 91 people in our region after being handed a list. Most of these people are Swiss, and 60 of them have now been charged.
"At no time during our extensive inquiry did Mr Collins' name occur. I can assure you he has no involvement in the investigation in Canton Vaud.""
Mr Sauterel added: "We could never have imagined the problems that codename would have led to. It should not have been allowed to get out into the public domain."
Jurg Schaublin, chief of the Western Europe co-ordination unit at the Federal HQ in Bern, said: "At no time have we mentioned Mr Collins. His credit card number was not one of those passed to us. It is a coincidence, no more." Roger Borer, inquiry co-ordinator, added: "Thousands of computers have been analysed to track down people accessing dirty pages on this US site."
The star's lawyers contacted police to find out how the "false and malicious" rumours began.
Phil left the UK in 1994 after marrying Swiss wife Orianne, mother of his son, Nicholas, one. Phil recently won an Oscar for his soundtrack work on Disney's Tarzan and yesterday he looked relaxed as he smiled for Press cameras at the Midem 2003 music festival in Cannes.
© Sunday Mirror, by Sara Nuwar