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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 July 2006, 23:43 GMT 00:43 UK
I forgive you, says Oaten's wife
Mark Oaten
Mr Oaten will celebrate his wedding anniversary in the Far East
The wife of scandal-hit Liberal Democrat MP Mark Oaten says she has forgiven him for his relationship with a male prostitute.

Belinda Oaten said the couple had rebuilt trust in their relationship but it had not happened overnight.

Asked whether she loved Mr Oaten, she told Sky News: "Yes, it's very annoying, but yes, I do."

Her interview comes after the Winchester MP announced he would stand down at the next general election.

The 42-year-old has made the decision six months after the News of the World revealed his affair with a rent boy.

When she heard about the story, Mrs Oaten threw her wedding ring at the MP, who was running for the Lib Dem leadership at the time.

'Difficult times'

Now his wife has explained that forgiving him had been a long process.

"It's been a very gradual process of him going back to the house, and there have been difficult times where we've sat down at opposite ends of the room and I've not really wanted to talk to him," she said.
I didn't have the guts to get off the treadmill
Mark Oaten

Asked whether she now trusted him she replied: "Again it's not an overnight thing, but yes I think we've put enough into this to know that we both trust each other."

Mrs Oaten threw her wedding ring at her husband when he confirmed the News of the World allegations, and Mr Oaten has apologised for "errors of judgment".

"I don't think that's something you can do overnight like gaining back trust, I think it's a lot easier to forgive than perhaps to forget," she said.

Decision time

Mr Oaten was forced to resign as Lib Dem home affairs spokesman after the revelations about his private life.

Days earlier he quit his party's leadership contest citing a lack of support from colleagues.

On Wednesday, Mr Oaten explained his decision to step down as an MP.

"This is something Belinda, my wife, and I have been mulling over for some time," he said.

"We have come to a conclusion and rather than just keeping that to ourselves it seemed a good time to let that be known."

Mr Oaten described his 12 years as a "rollercoaster" with some "very public downs" and it was now time to do something else.

The headlines about his private life had been a factor in his decision to leave politics, he said.

"That taught me that I have made some mistakes, it taught me to look carefully at work-life balance issues and taught me that being in the public gaze about my private life was really hurtful for Belinda and the girls," he said.

'Lacked courage'

Mr Oaten said he had regrets about his political career and felt "awful" for the damage he had caused his party nationally and in Winchester.

He said: "I didn't have the guts to get off the treadmill, I mean what on earth was I doing running for leader?

"Why was I wrapped up in this whole Westminster world when actually it was something I was finding difficult and uncomfortable.

"People find it hard to believe but I'm much happier now six months on."

Mr Oaten said he would miss Lib Dem conference for the first time this autumn and would instead be in the Far East celebrating his wedding anniversary with his wife.

"It will be the first time celebrating our wedding anniversary without it having to be in Bournemouth, Brighton or Blackpool," he added.

Profile: Mark Oaten
25 Jul 06 |  UK Politics
Oaten tells of 'mid-life crisis'
07 May 06 |  UK Politics
Oaten wife tells of her 'horror'
26 Apr 06 |  UK Politics
Oaten apologises over sex scandal
02 Feb 06 |  UK Politics

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