Saturday, January 21, 2006

Oaten Resigns in Rent Boy Sex Scandal

Mark Oaten has just announced his resignation as LibDem Home Affairs Spokesman over allegations of a relationship with a rent boy. The story will appear in tomorrow's News of the World. No one can take any pleasure from this. Sky are reporting that there had been rumours about his sexuality over the years. Well they certainly passed me by. What an awful week for the man. I wonder if it has anything to do with the break-in to his office. I seem to remember that before the Paddy Pantsdown episode there was a break-in in his solicitor's office. Bit of a coincidence. I can't believe what the newsreader on Sky (who has just said - "My instant reaction was when I heard about this was that it was someone else, but let's not go there." He should hang his head in shame. The newsreader, I mean. I suspect Mark Oaten is doing likewise though. Poor man.

UPDATE: Mark Oaten has released a statement: "I have stood down as home affairs spokesman for the party. I would like to apologise for errors of judgement in personal behaviour and for the embarrassment caused, firstly to my family but also to my friends, my constituents and my party. I will not be commenting further at this time and would now ask for some space and personal privacy for me and my family.''

UPDATE 8.50pm: The BBC didn't post this story on their website until 8.15pm. Only an hour behind then, boys. SKY posted their story 23 minutes earlier. A mere half an hour after this Blog broke the story on the Internet.

UPDATE: 21.09: From the PRESS ASSOCIATION wires... A long standing friend of Mr Oaten's in his Winchester constituencysaid tonight that the newspaper revelations were ``a bolt from the blue''. ``I have known the man for eight years, and he is one of the straightest people I have ever known,'' said the friend, who did not want to be named. ``I cannot believe it, the whole of the city is going to be in shock, he is immensely popular.'' The friend, who saw Mr Oaten yesterday, added: ``This is extraordinary, absolutely unbelievable.'' Winchester City Council Liberal Democrat member Ray Love said tonight: ``I had no idea. I have no comment to make.'' But he added: ``I do support him and will carry on supporting him. ``I have spoken to a colleague who also had no idea,'' he said. And Conservative George Hollingbery, who stood against Mr Oaten inthe General Election, said: ``My thoughts are with Mark and his family tonight. ``This is a private matter they will have to deal with,'' he added. Mr Oaten and his family live in the pretty village of Bramdean outside Winchester. But his resignation was not among the bar talk at the village's Fox Inn. A spokesman there said tonight: ``He has been in a couple of times but I would not call him a regular. It has not been a topic of conversation. Mr Oaten's election agent Edward Lord said he had been ``shocked'' by the disclosures. ``From what I know of Mark, I think this was an aberration,'' he told Sky News. ``We are a liberal party and for the party and it's members, Mark's private life was just that. It simply was not an issue. ``His performance, I don't think, was ever affected by any of theseissues.''

NOTE: Comments on this site are moderated. Anyone who posts a comment that is potential libellous (as one or two have done in the last half an hour) should not expect their comment to appear!

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

If true, surely Mr Oaten took some pleasure from it somewhere or did he get his money back?

Anonymous said...

Who needs 24 hour news when we have you at your keyboard ready to pounce?

I'll bet that the bloody whale gets more coverage tomorrow though.

Aidan Brack said...

The implication in what that newsreader said is very, very clear. IMHO he ought to be hauled over the coals for that one.

I'm very sorry for Mr. Oaten's family, if not Mr. Oaten. I'd like to say that I hope that they aren't subjected to too much media intrusion but then we all know how unlikely that is with our press.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the remainder of the candidates should come clean on whether they have been seeing rent boys.....I fear that rules abother out!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the other candidates should also come clean on rent boys....Whoops another gone!

Greg said...

Which Newsreader was it?

Martin Popplewell or Juliet Foster. Whichever they'll be in BIG trouble I would guess.

Anonymous said...

So where does this leave Simon Hughes? Can we expect significant digging by the Screws at al to see whether there are any similar relationships in his past?

Iain Dale said...

Greg, it was Martin Popplewell. As he dances the other side of the ballroom too, it's a disgrace.

dynamite said...

You're right to be angry; we all have a right to a privacy.

Modern Conservative said...

What on earth made him think that he could become leader of the Lib Dems and not have this come out?

Greg said...

He certainly looked very chastened and not a little bit concerned in the half hour after you mentioned it.

Anonymous said...

'dances the other side of the ballroom'

One of the best euphemisms I've ever heard.

Anonymous said...

Mark Oaten has done the right thing in choosing to resign. We should all feel for him and his family at this time. My concern though is how quickly disgraced politicans return to the frontbench (a la Mandelson & Blunkett). Oaten is a fine politican who made some suspect decisions, though I wouldn't want to see him return until after the next general election. And, at that, maybe in Cameron's cabinet...

Anonymous said...

Can I take it that he's unlikely to be encouraged to cross to the Tories now? ;0)

Anonymous said...

Iain - you need to be right about Martin P or it may be you in a libel action!

Anonymous said...

I think the last couple of weeks have shown that Oaten is anything but a fine politician.

Iain Dale said...

I am sure an inclusive Conservative Party could find room for Mr Oaten!

Pieter said...

Really feel sorry for Mark.

I hope that all of you who criticize and condemn, stop to think how you much wrong you have done too and then consider how lucky you are to have your privacy.....Mark and his family do not.

Wat Tyler said...

Very sad, but it is extraordinary he thought it OK to stand for the leadership.

Not only was standing likely to ensure the thing came out, but what if by some mischance he'd won?

Setting everything else aside, the guy's judgement and trustworthiness are completely shot.

bebopper said...

The "Screws" must be Choked. They were obviously hoping Oaten would be made leader and then they would spring their big surprise. As it is, they got a big fish, the bastards. And that slimy little rent boy is counting his money in a certain PR man's office.

Hugh said...

Cui bono?

Why do the papers pick on one public figure rather than any other? Those of us who are at the centre of things know how arbitrary such matters are. Or rather, not arbitrary at all. I have strong suspicions as to who put the NotW up to this.

Wat Tyler: John Major knew that the Edwina Currie story would come out if he became leader of the Conservatives. That's why he didn't run for the leadership in 1990.

H.

mbe said...

Er, sorry? Have I missed something? A potential leader of 'the third largest political party in the UK' has been paying for sex or having sex with someone who gets paid for sex? Immoral? Illegal more like it.........
Oh sorry, it's okay if it's on your doorstep ;)

Anonymous said...

He's my constituency MP and though I can see he's got a right to privacy surely his position as Winchester's MP is now untenable.

He has been shown to be of poor judgement and to be untrustworthy. I think he ought to resign as an MP - I certainly would encourage him to do so.

Anonymous said...

You know times like these I really miss Libdemwatch, they would have been dancing all over the ballroom with this one.

Donnatella said...

Poor Mark :-(

How do u get ur info so quick iain?? *sets your blog to home page* :-D

Anonymous said...

He is my MP and while I think this is awful for his family, he has built his reputation on being an all round baby kissing, granny hugging, dog patting, family man.

For someone who used to be in PR, how could he imagine that this would not be found out, especially if he ran for the leadership.

I wonder what his fan base the majority of whom are ladies of a certain age will react to this?

Anonymous said...

And how it seems only a couple a days ago, when you wished Oaten to defect to the Tories... Oh wait, it WAS only a couple a days ago!

Iain Dale said...

I'd still welcome him now. Unlike some, I shan't be dancing on his political grave.

Anonymous said...

"As he dances the other side of the ballroom too, it's a disgrace."

Homo- or bisexuality doesn't imply, that one uses the services of prostitutes or that one cheats his or her partner. The scandal wasn't the fact that Oaten is a bisexual, the scandal was that he cheated his wife with a rentboy.

Therefore I think Popplewell could be rightfully indignant about somebody having an extramarital relationship with a rentboy, but of course that doesn't mean that he has the right to spread gossips about other people's private life.

mbe said...

Iain,
I like your blog but please tell me that last comment was sarcastic!
A forty-something male MP, married with 2 kids is romping with a rent-boy? Are you trying to destroy the Tories?
Illegal acts, adultery, confessions: we've had enough of that!

Anonymous said...

`We are a liberal party and for the party and it's (SIC) members, Mark's private life was just that. It simply was not an issue."
Unless you enjoy one too many drinks and they make you state to the nation that you're an alcoholic before unceremoniously throwing you out as the Liberal Party leader!

Lady Finchley said...

I know first hand how evil the press can be and for that I am truly sorry for him and especially his wife - what a society we live in! There is something to be said about France's strangled press sometimes.

On a lighter note - I always thought he looked familiar. Now it hit me - he looks like Carrie's pal Stanford in Sex and the City! Methinks he has been doubling as an actor! And on Parlimentary time! Now, THAT is what I call a scandal. Are you listening Goerge?

Anonymous said...

Popbitch and Guido/Recess Monkey had this story at least a week ago, including a mention in their beta pseudo westminster hour podcast. Things like this give me mixed feelings. It's nice to be let in on a story that the media and the westminster village have had for ages, but it still makes you wonder what other elephants there are in the room.

As to the hypocrisy charge, it is all very well to say that politicians should not keep something like this private as long as you don't shoot them down when they do. Chris Bryant being a good example. Is this because he's gay or because he visited a prostitute?

Ed said...

I can appreciate that when you become an elected representative you live in the public eye but it saddens me somewhat to see just how vindictive the News of The World were with the story. I think there are nicer, yet still attention grabbing ways to break a sex scandal than going in depth about how someone loved to be humiliated in bizzare sexual acts that were beyond publication. I can't help but have the utmost sympathy for Mark Oaten and his family, what he did was bloody stupid but the way the media have dealt with it has been disgraceful and in my mind an indictment on their reputations.

Anonymous said...

Comment submitted at 9:39 AM:

"Unless you enjoy one too many drinks and they make you state to the nation that you're an alcoholic before unceremoniously throwing you out as the Liberal Party leader!"

If you really followed the events, you know perfectly well that there was pressure against Kennedy to step down already before the Christmas, well before he admitted his drinking problem. His statement wasn't the reason why he was ousted, the fact that he wasn't able to fulfill his duties as a leader was.

Dangerouslysubversivedad said...

How can anyone have sympathy for a creature like this? He has cheated on his wife, betrayed his two poor children, and above all exploited a prostitute whilst in a position of power.

But I forget, of course in the new Liberal, non-judgemental Tory Party anything resembling morality takes a backseat to getting nice coverage from the Guardian doesnt it? The comments in this section from those who would doubtless consider themselves 'true blue' Conservatives illustrate clearly just how far gone you people really are from what used to make your party great.

Ed said...

But I forget, of course in the new Liberal, non-judgemental Tory Party anything resembling morality takes a backseat to getting nice coverage from the Guardian doesnt it

There is a difference between looking down on people and taking glee from their mistakes and having a sense of morality. Margaret Thatcher put it well in 'The Path to Power':

I still recall his denunciation of
the Pharisaical tendency to brand children born outside marriage
as ‘illegitimate’. All the town knew of some children without
fathers; listening to the Rev. Childe, we felt very guilty about thinking of them as different. Times have changed. We have since
removed the stigma of illegitimacy not only from the child but also
from the parent — and perhaps increased the number of disadvan-
taged children thereby. We still have to find some way of combining
Christian charity with sensible social policy.


I fail to see how he 'exploited' the rent boys from his 'position of power', according to NotW reports they had no idea who he was for most of the time.

As for the new immoral tories, David Cameron has not established a Commission on men who like to be sexually humilated by male prostitutes and Conservative policy doesn't advocate or condone the use of prostitutes but that doesn't mean that they are going to take glee from Mark Oaten's humiliation and look down on him. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.