Liberal Democrat MP Mark Oaten has revealed that middle age and his political workload contributed to him having a gay affair with a rent boy.
Mr Oaten, MP for Winchester, resigned from his Lib Dem Home Affairs post and the leadership race in January 2006 after allegations in the News of the World of a gay relationship with a male prostitute.
He wrote in the Sunday Times yesterday, “For most of my life I have never had any doubts about my sexuality. But I have now come to believe that a person’s sexuality is not such a black or white issue.
“I don’t think I would ever have had reason to reconsider my sexuality had it not been for a combination of factors and events at a difficult period in my life.”
These factors included a fear that he was losing his youth after a “dramatic loss of hair” in his 30s, and unhappiness at work.
“To political observers it might have seemed that over the past few years my career had gone from strength to strength. I had one of the most high-profile posts on the Lib Dem front bench. The reality was, however, that not a day went by when I didn’t consider throwing in the towel. I had become a passenger to my own career, swept along by the enthusiasm of others and unable to control where I was heading.
“You lose control over your schedule and you end up trying to snatch time between late-night votes to call home and check on your wife and children, who lead a separate existence 100 miles away.
“I think there was an element of escapism in what I did. I suspect that in part I was trying to reclaim a private domain in my life; but I’m also convinced that I was trying fatally to undermine my own political career. I could never quite bring myself to resign from the front bench and it’s as if I was daring the world to bring the whole thing crashing down.
“It was the pressures of being home affairs spokesman that affected me the most. This is an important role in any party, but for the Lib Dems our stance on home affairs issues has been crucial in shaping the party’s identity and creating clear water between us and the other two parties.
“The life of a high-profile frontbench MP is a real 24/7 job. The day begins with the Today programme and ends with Newsnight. (Personally I prefer Big Brother to Newsnight and Magic 105.4 to Today,” he said.
The politician told how he approached two cars parked outside his Hampshire home in January and was met by a News of the World journalist with an allegation and photograph of a male escort he had been involved with.
He told his wife Belinda, and then the couple calmly made their children, Alice, 9, Milly, 6, breakfast, whilst they planned how to react and where to hide from the press, “Trying to get them breakfast was awful -pretending everything was normal when our lives had just been blown apart.
“Shortly before I went out of the back door, her calm at last gave way to fury. She tried to hit me several times and threw her wedding ring back at me – and who could blame her?”
Mr Oaten added, “I don’t blame anyone but myself for the mess I’m in. I accept that I will always be known as a scandal MP; but, instead of living out the rest of my days in hiding, I’m determined to try to rebuild my life. I have no excuses for what I’ve done but I hope that by trying to explain what went on I can end the public fascination and move on.”
He announced last month that he is back with his wife who “understands” what led to his betrayal.