I'm no fan of Mark Oaten, as I think I've made clear, but this is rather a shame. The thing I'm saddest to see is him apologising to his family – immediately revealing the furtive sordidness of it all. No-one hires a rent boy for that length of time for cash, surely? Which would imply that it was a relationship that meant something to them both rather than a mere cash transaction. Or am I just being naively optimistic? Probably.
But I can't help remembering when I was a reporter on the Surrey Comet and the local Tory MEP Tom Spencer got busted, how incredibly maturely he and his family handled the whole thing.
Spencer was caught by customs coming back from Europe with gay porn movies and drugs in his bag. The porn turned out to be a gift from his occasional lover, the star of the movies. With his career in ruins around him, he very frankly told reporters that his wife knew he was bisexual when she married him and was quite happy for him to have the occasional weekend off to explore that side of his character. The wife was equally frank and even the kids couldn't see a problem with the arrangement.
To be honest, I couldn't see what he'd done wrong (apart from the derisory amount of drugs he was found with) and I'm pretty sure I remember making that obvious to him when I interviewed him. The story I wrote wasn't exactly scathing, either.
Maybe – hopefully – what happened with Mark Oaten will turn out to be something not too dissimilar.
Having said all that, Oaten was a berk for standing in the leadership election with that hanging over his head. He would have been asked 'why not' if he didn't stand, but he was talking about unity candidates within moments of Kennedy's resignation so could have got away with it.