THE son of former Bournemouth East MP David Atkinson has said he did not intend to liken his father to Jimmy Savile.

But Anthony Atkinson said his father had been involved with “some very suspect characters” and that the family had taken their concerns about his behaviour to Labour MP Tom Watson.

Claims about the private life of the former Conservative MP, who died in 2012, were aired by Anthony Atkinson and his mother Sue in national papers at the weekend.

The Daily Telegraph’s headline ran: “‘My father was a sexual predator like Jimmy Savile’ says son of former Tory MP”.

Anthony Atkinson told the Daily Echo he had not likened his father’s behaviour to Savile’s offences but that the MP’s sexual activities were “predatory and prolific”.

Anthony Atkinson, who insisted neither he nor his mother had been paid for their stories, issued a statement saying: “The reaction of local people who knew my father is completely understandable. He kept so many aspects of his life secret, even from his own family. We have been shocked at the things we have discovered and are in disbelief at the implications that this may have.”

The family had known about the MP’s affairs with other men but said they discovered more about his secret life when they obtained his papers after his death.

They met with Labour MP Tom Watson in November 2012, after the MP called for an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse at Westminster. Anthony Atkinson said: “Shortly after, my family began working with an investigator, looking into my father’s contacts and background.

“It soon became clear that, sadly, a man whom we loved very much had secretly become involved with some very suspect characters.

“He also became involved with young men from very vulnerable backgrounds.”

But Anthony Atkinson told the Echo he had no evidence of his father having sex with anyone who was underage or who did not consent.

The family also spoke to officers in the Operation Fernbridge inquiry, but no action was taken.

The statement added: “The family would again like to make it very clear: My father served the constituency of Bournemouth East fantastically.

“He was an excellent constituency MP.

“We would never want to do anything to take away the many good things he has done for people locally, nationally and internationally.”