Premier League leaders Chelsea and fellow London side Crystal Palace dismissed a police warning about a scout who had been convicted for importing child-abuse images, the detective who alerted them told The Times on Friday.

Clive Driscoll, who rose to the rank of chief inspector before retiring, said he might as well have been phoning “from the moon” when he made the call in 2001 about the scout John Butcher.

Butcher was convicted in 1993 of attempting to smuggle child-abuse images into England from the Netherlands and in 2009 he was put on the sex offenders register for seven years after he was caught looking at indecent images.

Butcher, 67, is adamant he has “never physically abused children”.

The revelations — which will add to the deepening dismay of how football reacted to the allegations at the time in a scandal that has rocked the foundations of the multi-billion pound sport — come days after London police revealed they were looking into allegations of abuse at 30 London clubs including four unnamed Premier League sides.