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.''
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