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Last Updated: Friday, 3 February 2006, 20:55 GMT
Local support for sex scandal MP
Surrounded by media, Mark Oaten leaves after his surgery in Swanmore
Mark Oaten faced his constituents for the first time since the scandal
Disgraced MP Mark Oaten has been given the full backing of his local Liberal Democrat constituency party.

The Winchester MP, 41, faced his constituents at his Friday surgery and then attended the executive committee of the local Lib Dem association.

After the meeting, chairman Harvey Cole said members had "confirmed their strong support" for Mr Oaten.

The father-of-two resigned from the party front bench after newspaper reports of an affair with a rent boy.

I think the jury is completely out on whether he should stand at the next election
Sheila Campbell, council leader

Mr Cole, said: "Members unanimously expressed their great appreciation of the work Mark Oaten has done.

"They noted the widespread support for him, both from local party members and the wider community.

"They confirmed their strong support for Mark as the MP for Winchester and the Meon Valley."

Mr Oaten had earlier told a local newspaper he was determined to regain the confidence of his constituents.

Family a priority

He said he would continue to serve as MP for as long as voters wanted him.

Talking to the Hampshire Chronicle, he said: "I think my priority in the next week is my family - my wife Belinda and the children - and really to focus very much on them, and also Winchester, my constituency."

Winchester City Council leader Sheila Campbell came to the surgery in Swanmore, Hampshire, to speak with him and said: "I think if he is competent to do the job - and in the past he always has been - then he should be allowed to stay in for the duration of the parliament for which he was elected.

"I think the jury is completely out on whether he should stand at the next election."




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