(Images: AAP/Erik Anderson; AAP/Joel Carrett)

The New South Wales premier's secret relationship with former MP Daryl Maguire led to a fundamental but undeclared conflict of interest at the top of the government, with Gladys Berejiklian controlling the funding of the very body which revealed Maguire's corruption.

That conflict has been made more pressing over the past 18 months, as the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has pleaded with the premier's office for extra funding for its survival.

ICAC made its case in increasingly desperate terms in late 2019 as the government's funding cutbacks over successive years hit hard. It warned that without a funding boost it would be forced to make 31 full-time employees redundant from its 120-strong workforce with an "immediate and devastating" impact on its ability to fight corruption.