BMW chairman Helmut Panke said that the UK government possibly exerted political interference over the sale of Rover, reported the Times newspaper.

He made the statements in evidence to MPs investigating the role of ministers in the collapse of the British carmaker. The House of Commons Trade and Industry Select Committe is inquiring into Rover's sale in 2000 and its subsequent collapse last year.

According to the newspaper, Panke said Phoenix directors to whom BMW gave a GBP500m dowry were 'overly enthusiastic' when the deal was struck in 2000. The earlier planned sale to finance group Alchemy 'made a lot of sense,' he said, adding that 'in hindsight it could appear there was political interference'.

When contacted by just-auto, BMW Group communications manager Angela Stangroom said the company could not add anything to Panke's comments and added that BMW would cooperate fully with inquiries into the sale of Rover in 2000.