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August 2001

Former Council Chairman's PC used to Access Pornography


The computer supplied to disgraced former Hampshire County Council chairman Freddie Emery-Wallis was used to browse pornographic websites on the Internet.

Emery-Wallis, was jailed for nine months in June after he was found guilty on five counts of indecent assault against two teenage boys more than 30 years ago.

Police investigating the charges laid against him seized all the computer equipment used by Emery-Wallis.

The council has since been provided with a statement from a police officer that specialises in the retrieval and examination of evidence from computers.

Evidence collected by the officer proves that the computer was used to view pornography, along with dates and times that the websites were accessed.

However, council legal bosses stressed that the examination of the computer did not prove that Emery-Wallis himself was responsible for accessing the pornographic sites.

In a report to the standards and procedures sub-committee, head of corporate and legal services Jeff Patterson said: "This could have been done by anyone having access to the computer.

"However, if this were the case, then it is reasonable to suggest that Mr Emery-Wallis was responsible for ensuring that the computer was put to appropriate and proper use within the constraints of the county council's policy."

The authority's policy on the use of the Internet and e-mail clearly states that the facilities must not be used for the creation, use, transmission or encouragement of material which is illegal, obscene or libellous.

It was recommended that when the council's policy on the use of computer equipment is next amended it should contain an explicit reference to members being responsible for its use or misuse that may occur by another person.

Emery-Wallis, 74, a married father of two, first joined the council in 1973 and was made a CBE by the Queen for his services to the community.

He gave up his council duties soon after being charged and did not stand for re-election in May.

The jail sentence has disqualified him from being a councillor for a period of five years and when he leaves Winchester Prison he will have to register as a sex offender.

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