Lib Dem gay scandal blamed for Winchester loss

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Liberal Democrat MP Mark Oaten’s gay sex scandal has been blamed for the party’s loss of Winchester council to the Conservatives.

The Tories won control of the area in the local elections yesterday, winning seven seats, including Lib Dem council leader, Sheila Campbell.

Ms Campbell said the “Oaten effect” was an “inescapable conclusion” for the loss.

George Beckett, Conservative leader in Winchester, said: “We didn’t mention Mark Oaten on the doorstep or in our campaign literature.

“Mr Oaten made his bed and he must lie in it.

“We took votes from Labour as well as the Liberal Democrats.”

Mr Oaten, MP for Winchester, resigned from his Lib Dem Home Affairs post and the leadership race in January after newspaper allegations of a gay relationship with a male prostitute.

He reacted to claims in the News of the World, which said the married father of two had been involved in a relationship with a “rent boy,” in 2004.

The Conservative Party won 28 seats, the Lib Dems were second with 21 and Labour received 4.