Birmingham Chamber of Commerce has hit back at claims that it was "rigging" a poll to support the National Exhibition Centre as the best site for a super-casino, insisting that it had no idea which way members would vote on the issue.
Chamber policy director Jerry Blackett, who believes the NEC is the best location for a casino, said it was perfectly possible that business representatives would support a rival scheme being promoted by Birmingham City FC, even though he is urging them to back the NEC.
Mr Blackett said: "We genuinely do not know which way the vote will go. If it is in the Blues' favour, we will throw our weight behind their bid."
He is standing by a decision to assume that members of the Chamber's 75-strong council who do not return their ballot papers would have voted in favour of the NEC and to count them as having done so.
The move, sharply criticised by Blues managing director Karren Brady, was designed to make it more likely that Chamber members would return their voting slips because they would realise the importance of doing so, Mr Blackett insisted.
Ms Brady accused Mr Blackett of issuing a report to Chamber council members which was "wholly inaccurate and misrepresentative" of the club's position. Her allegations were firmly rejected in a letter from Mr Blacket.
* Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath MP Roger Godsiff has announced his support for the Birmingham City casino, which would be built in his constituency.
Mr Godsiff said it was time city councillors spoke up for a casino in Birmingham.