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British Speaker of the House of Commons Resigns Over Expense Scandal

Michael Martin, the Speaker of the House of Commons, announced his resignation Tuesday following allegations that officials used public funding for personal expenses like housing renovations and mortgage payments. Special correspondent Simon Marks reports.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now the growing political scandal in Great Britain. We have a report from special NewsHour correspondent Simon Marks.

  • NEWS ANCHOR:

    A moment of history, a time of crisis. Parliament forces out Mr. Speaker.

  • NEWS ANCHOR:

    On this special edition of the evening news…

  • SIMON MARKS, NewsHour Special Correspondent:

    On British television tonight, the resignation of the speaker of the House of Commons was portrayed as a seismic political event.

    Just hours earlier, Michael Martin became the highest-profile casualty of a scandal concerning lawmakers' personal expenses that is shaking the British political establishment to its core.

    MICHAEL MARTIN, Speaker, British House of Commons: Please allow me to say to the men and women of the United Kingdom that we have let you down very badly, indeed. We must all accept blame. And to that extent that I have contributed to the situation, I am profoundly sorry.

  • SIMON MARKS:

    It took the speaker, a member of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour Party, just half a minute to make British political history: becoming the first occupant of his office to be forced out in more than three centuries.

  • MICHAEL MARTIN:

    In order that unity can be maintained, I have decided that I will relinquish the office of speaker on Sunday, 21st of June. This will allow the house to proceed to elect a new speaker on Monday, 22nd of June. That is all I have to say on this matter.