The head of the body charged with advising the Government on the choice of the first "super casino" for the UK yesterday issued a robust defence of his independence.
Professor Stephen Crow, chairman of the Casino Advisory Panel, said its members were free of political and commercial interference, and the choice of the first super casino was not a "done deal", in spite of reports to the contrary.
"Is Greenwich a done deal for the regional casino? The answer to that question is no, I do not know how I can spell it out, it is N.O.," he told a public hearing in central London.
"We have made no such decision, in fact we have made no decision at all until we have considered everything, including those proceedings over the rest of the week and those next week and any other questions we think to ask afterwards."
Prof Crow was speaking at the opening of an Examination-in-Public into the merits of the bid for a super casino at the Millennium Dome in south east London.
Further such hearings will be held around the country over the next fortnight in six other short-listed venues - Cardiff, Glasgow, Newcastle, Sheffield, Manchester and Blackpool.
The Millennium Dome bid has been mired in controversy in recent months after Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was found to have stayed at the ranch of Philip Anschutz, the owner of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which bought the Millennium Dome in 2002.
Mr Prescott has repeatedly insisted that he has not been involved in the casino application process and that AEG has received no preferential treatment.
Speaking yesterday, Prof Crow told the hearing: "What role is John Prescott playing in our process, I hear you asking. None."
Prof Crow also commented on the news released earlier this month that AEG has already begun to build the shell of its proposed casino, without a licence to operate it.
Commenting, Prof Crow said: "I would like to say something about the silly story that is going around.
"The silly story is that I have somehow commended the developers of the dome for starting before they have got any sort of approval. What I have said is that I shall take that into account.
"I shall tell you shortly after Christmas whether I have taken that into account favourably or unfavourably."
He added that the CAP was an independent advisory body which was not "beholden" to any local authority or casino developer or operator.
Nor was it subject to any political pressures or any political interference with its work.
He said the panel would be reporting its recommendation to Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell by December of this year.
It would then be up to her to make the decision.
Councillor Peter Brooks, deputy leader of Greenwich Council, told the hearing that an application for leave to pursue a judicial review had been lodged by Havering Borough Council.
He said Greenwich Council had been concerned that were Havering given leave to pursue the judicial review, this could stall the timetable for the Examinations-in-Public.
Prof Crow told the hearing it was his belief that the legal challenge would not be successful.
Mr Brooks told the hearing that the Greenwich Peninsula benefit from new transport infrastructure, 10,000 new homes, new jobs, new schools, higher education institutions, health facilities, parks and open spaces.
He said the Dome would be developed as an entertainment district and the casino would be located in the Dome.
This would bring investment of #600 million to Greenwich.
It would bring a 320-bed "world-class" hotel and a second 400 to 500-bed hotel, exhibition space and a theatre.
He added that without the casino, the hotels, exhibition space, theatre and the further development of the entertainment district would not proceed.