'I forgive my husband for his rent boy affair' says wife of disgraced MP

Belinda Oaten tells how she is rebuilding life with former Lib Dem home affairs spokesman
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Indy Politics

The wife of the disgraced Liberal Democrat MP Mark Oaten is to tell her story about the "rent boy" revelations that led to her husband's downfall.

In a concerted effort to rehabilitate the couple personally and politically, Belinda Oaten will write an article for Hello! magazine detailing the fall-out from her husband's affair with a male prostitute. Friends of the Oatens said it would be a personal piece "about the process of forgiving your husband for having gone astray".

Sources close to Mrs Oaten, 37, said yesterday that she has forgiven her husband and the couple are trying to rebuild their marriage. They recently returned from a week-long holiday abroad and have spent a lot of time at their home in Hampshire.

According to friends, they have spent time in the village of Bramdean, near Petersfield, walking their dogs, going to the local pub and watching films at the cinema. Although Mr Oaten moved out of the family home for four weeks after the story broke, they have been living together again for nearly two months.

This is the first stage in a three-part campaign that the Liberal Democrats hope will save Mr Oaten's political career and may even re-establish the former home affairs spokesman as a frontbench figure.

Mr Oaten will also write an article, for a publication yet to be decided, outlining the circumstances behind his downfall. He will focus on the pressures which he believes led him to visit male prostitutes. It is understood that the article will focus on "lifestyle issues" and the strains and stresses of people whose working lives mean they do not spend a great deal of time with their family.

Within the next few months, the couple plan to do a joint interview. Senior Lib Dem figures hope this will lay the issue to rest.

A senior source within the party said: "It looks as if a reconciliation is on the cards. They are piecing things back together. What they have been keen to do at all stages is protect their kids. They want to draw a close to this - it's not been possible to do it by saying no comment."

Mark Oaten was standing for the party leadership when the News of the World revealed in January that the Winchester MP had had a six-month relationship with a male prostitute.

Following the revelations, Mrs Oaten said the "extraordinary situation" she found herself in would take "some time for me to resolve".

A source close to Sir Menzies Campbell, the Lib Dem leader, said: "Mark is still held in high regard. Everybody realises he needs to spend some time on his personal, private circumstances, but he hasn't got a black mark against his name. A return is certainly a possibility."