HE WAS the highly-respected Hampshire politician whose glittering career ended in disgrace after he was jailed for indecently assaulting two teenage boys.

Freddie Emery-Wallis, who was leader of the county council for more than 20 years, has died aged 89 after suffering a stroke.

He rubbed shoulders with royalty and other VIPs during decades of public service.

After being appointed Lord Mayor of Portsmouth in 1969 he was elected to Hampshire County Council in 1973 and became leader of the authority just three years later.

He also served as Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire and in 1999 was made a CBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

But in 2001 he was convicted of molesting two paperboys above a shop he owned in the 1960s and was jailed for nine months.

His barrister, Bruce Maddick, told the court: “For 40 years, he had worked for his fellow citizens, both within the city of Portsmouth and more recently throughout Hampshire. He will be remembered not for his good works, but for these offences.”

Last night the current county council leader, Cllr Roy Perry, said: “He was an effective leader and Hampshire is still benefitting from his policies, but no-one could condone the actions for which he was later convicted.”

Fellow county councillor Mel Kendal said Mr Emery-Wallis was instrumental in the purchase of farmland across the county.

Some of the sites were retained, preserving parts of the countryside, but others were sold for housing in a move that enabled the authority to invest more money in schools and roads.

Cllr Ken Thornber, who succeeded him as leader, said he was “devoted” to Hampshire.

During his long spell as the county’s top politician Mr Emery-Wallis set up the Historic Buildings Bureau, which helped ensure that Hampshire’s heritage was maintained to the highest standards.

He was chairman of the authority when the indecent assault allegations were first made against him.

He quit the role in 2000 but protested his innocence, telling fellow councillors: “I am determined to do all I can to ensure that these allegations do not tarnish my own reputation, the integrity of the county council, or compromise my role as chairman.”

The following year he was jailed for nine months after Judge Andrew Chubb, sitting at Portsmouth Crown Court, gave him credit for “an otherwise excellent character”.

Children’s welfare groups described the sentence as too lenient.

Speaking at the time Vanessa Howarth, chief executive of ChildLine, said: “Compared with the pain and suffering that the young victims have endured and carried with them as adults, nine months seems a very short time.”

Mr Emery-Wallis was a former president of Portsmouth Society and lived in the city. He died after suffering a stroke.