By Neville Thurlbeck
LIB-DEM leadership challenger Mark Oaten has been leading a sordid secret double life — sneaking off from Parliament to pay rent boys for three-in-a-bed sex.
And the News of the World can reveal insiders are convinced THAT is the real reason the married dad of two suddenly pulled out of the race for his party's top job this week.
Following our shock investigation the shamed high-flyer last night quit as the Liberal Democrats' home affairs spokesman.
One young male prostitute told us: "Oaten was a regular punter for six months. He loved gay sex and humiliation.
"It was a huge turn-on for him. He couldn't get enough. He's a very troubled man living a very dangerous double life."
The news will stun his party, already reeling from leader Charles Kennedy being forced to quit over his secret drinking AND yesterday's revelation that House of Lords Lib Dem leader Tom McNally was also an alcoholic .
When Oaten dropped out of the leadership stakes on Thursday heblamed lack of support. But last night another MP said: "The House was rife with rumours something unsavoury was about to come out. He had no choice."
Despite being married to wife Belinda since 1992 and having two children, we can reveal how 41-year-old Winchester MP Oaten first contacted one gay hooker in summer 2004.
The rent boy, who was 23 at the time and operated from a squalid south London flat, told us: "I advertise on a website and Oaten called out of the blue.
"I told him it was £80 for an hour and he said he'd be round in 30 minutes. It was quite late and I guess he must have just finished at the House of Commons.
"My flat was just a mile away. He arrived looking nervous and wearing a smart suit and tie.
"It was all over in minutes. He was so excited. We never had full sex but we did everything else. Over the next few months he kept ringing and turning up for quick sex.
"He rarely said anything until he was in the throes of passion. Then he'd tell me how beautiful I was. He said he travelled to New York a lot. I thought he was some sort of diplomat although he didn't seem to have that much polish.
"Before one session he rang several times asking if I'd dress up in a football strip for him. He really seemed to enjoy himself that night."
In Who's Who balding Oaten cites football as one of his main interests.
But he had other games on his mind when he told the blond rent boy: "I really want a three-in-a-bed with two guys."
The gay prostitute told us: "That was very easy. I've a boyfriend who's also an escort and I fixed it up for him for just £140.
"When he arrived we put on a show for him. I started having sex with my boyfriend on the bed then Oaten stripped and began pleasuring himself. Then he said he wanted us to degrade him." The naked MP then got the rent boys to humiliate him with a bizarre sex act too revolting to describe.
At this point the No1 prostitute, slightly built with blond hair and blue eyes, still did not know the true identity of his high-profile regular.
But that all changed in February 2005. The rent boy said: "I saw him on television and realised he was my customer.
"So the next night, after our normal session, I said to him, ‘I saw you on the TV last night. You're Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrat MP.'
"He went white with shock and said, ‘It can't be me, I must have a double. I'm not a politician.' Then he pulled on his clothes and scarpered. I never saw or heard from him again.
"He was such a secretive man, but I knew it WAS Oaten. Whenever he rang he never withheld his number and I have it to this day."
The scandal exposes Oaten as a hypocrite. Last year he CONDEMNED a judge who was sacked for hiring rent boys.
And he has no qualms about using family values to further his career. His website boasts he is a family man who lives with them in his constituency.
Just 12 days ago Oaten launched his ill-fated leadership bid with wife Belinda firmly at his side. And when he backed out on Thursday he said: "I'm going to spend the weekend with my family."
When we confronted Mr Oaten with our findings yesterday at his detached home in the village of Bramdean, Hampshire, he looked ashen as he said: "Can I speak to my family first? I'll speak to you later."
Last night he issued a statement quitting his front bench job.