Speaker of UK lower house resigns

LONDON: The powerful speaker of Britain's House of Commons has resigned after a backlash over excessive expense claims by lawmakers, the first time in three centuries a speaker has been forced from office.

Though Michael Martin wasn't caught up in recent revelations about lawmakers expenses — reimbursement claims for chandeliers, moat cleaning and mortgage payments outraged taxpayers — he was blamed for creating a climate in which such excesses were allowed.

Martin said Tuesday he would leave the position June 21.

Martin resisted reforms designed to make lawmakers' expenses more transparent and fought to block publication of the claims. But lawmakers themselves were reluctant to expose their spending. Martin's defenders say he's taking the fall for their avarice.