A Bromley parliamentary candidate has denied any conflict of interest after he backed a local development, which a firm he chairs helped secure.

Tory Bob Neill published a letter in December 2018 expressing support for a restoration of the Royal Bell, a town landmark which fell into disrepair having been left vacant for years.

Mr Neill, who has represented Bromley and Chislehurst since 2006, said he had expressed support for the project as early as 2013 and has hit back at critics, saying he played no role in acquiring the building.

An investigation by blogger Dr Alex May revealed that Mr Neill is chairman of the Substantia Group, a property and business consultancy firm through which the developer, Hillman & Sons, acquired the property.

MPs are required to draw clear attention to a financial interest on almost any occasion when someone else might consider it to influence what they say or do.

While Mr Neill did register his role with Substantia in 2016, which earns him £1,000 per month for six hours of his time, he did not appear to mention it when publicly backing the project.

In late September, a new craft bar opened in the Grade II listed building, paving the way for a five star hotel to follow.

Mr Neill published a letter in favour of Hillman and Sons' project when the planning consultation was ongoing, stating that "the current proposals under consideration offer a realistic, financially sustainable plan for the site, returning the building to its historic use."

While he does not dispute that he had an interest in Substantia at the time, Mr Neill states his support for the development reflected the views of his constituents.

In a statement, he said: "This innuendo looks like a bit of election time mud-throwing and is totally and demonstrably false.

"Firstly, my consultancy with Substantia is fully and publicly disclosed according to the Parliamentary rules.

"I have no involvement in their day to day business and none with N. Hillman & Sons, or in their acquisition of the Royal Bell. Neither do I have any part in the Council’s decision making process.

"Secondly, I have been on record publicly supporting attempts to restore the Royal Bell back as far as 2013, long before the current proposal was mooted.

"My support for the current scheme was consistent with that and in line with the overwhelming views of local residents, businesses and community groups - as shown by the 128 other representations in favour of the scheme (and only 10 against) as well as the unanimous speeches and vote in favour of it by councillors from all Parties at the committee meeting.

"I was actually doing my job as an MP by supporting my constituents in seeking to bring an iconic building in our town centre, on Historic England’s “buildings at risk” register, back into use and I certainly do not apologise for that."