Victorian Opposition leader Daniel Andrews’ chief of staff listened to a leaked recording of a conversation between a journalist and former Liberal premier Ted Baillieu weeks before it was made public, News Corp is reporting.
The revelation follows an accusation from The Age newspaper on Friday that unnamed senior figures within Mr Andrews’ office and the Labor party of removing from lost property a tape recorder dropped by an Age journalist at the Labor state conference in May.
It says they copied a conversation on it between the owner and Mr Baillieu.
In it, Mr Baillieu is heard referring to independent MP Geoff Shaw, upper house Liberal MP Bernie Finn and his “crazy mates” and federal government minister Kevin Andrews.
An online link to the conversation was later emailed to hundreds of Liberal Party members by a person using a false name and purporting to be a fellow Liberal.
News Corp said John McLindon, Mr Andrews’ chief of staff, listened to the tape before it was leaked.
The Liberal Party is investigating whether a member of its party distributed the email that leaked the conversation publicly.
On Friday, Mr Andrews said The Age’s claims that Labor was involved in the leak are “wrong and untrue, and they have been referred to our lawyers”, and dissemination of the tape was “100 per cent an internal Liberal Party matter”.
“The distribution of that material was conducted by the Liberal Party to the Liberal Party and it is them that should answer for that, not anyone else,” he said.