The most senior official in Britain’s lower house of parliament has apologised for an expenses scandal which has sparked public anger.Michael Martin sidestepped calls for his resignation by critics who accuse him of trying to prevent the publication of the expenses. “We must all accept blame and, to that extent, that I have contributed to the situation, I am profoundly sorry. Now each and every member including myself must work hard to regain your trust,” said Michael Martin. The claims show that some lawmakers used public money to pay off mortgages, repair tennis courts and buy luxury furniture. The scandal comes at a bad time for prime minister Gordon Brown, whose Labour party is already trailing the opposition Conservatives in the polls ahead of a 2010 general election. The Tories are calling for an early election.