Commons Speaker resigns in scandal

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Britain’s parliamentary expense scandal claimed its biggest casualty on Tuesday when the speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, announced his resignation after politicians broke centuries of protocol and demanded he step down.

Mr. Martin, who has become a symbol of politician’s attempts to stop details of their expense claims being made public, made a short statement to the House of Parliament Tuesday afternoon announcing he will resign on 21 June. . .

On Monday, Mr. Martin — who as speaker heads the body that administers Parliament and has responsibility for politicians’ expenses — had dug to hold on to the post, even as MPs from all political parties called for his resignation. . .

Mr. Martin’s resignation marks the first time that a speaker has been forced from office since 1695; the role dates back to the 13th century. But allies of the speaker said that politicians were making him a scapegoat for a scandal that they are all involved in. . .

Mr. Martin’s near nine-year rule as speaker has been controversial for many years. Mr. Martin, who as speaker also acts as a moderator in House of Commons debates, was accused of showing bias towards MPs of his former party, the Labour Party, in debate. This year Mr. Martin hit the headlines after allowing police in to search the Common’s office of Conservative immigration spokesman Damian Green, who was accused of leaking information.

But it was his attempts to keep expense information out of the public domain that have led to his recent troubles. Mr. Martin even took the case to the U.K.’s high court in a bid to stop details coming out.

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