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Labor Claims NBN Staffer Took Photos Of Unreleased NBN Policy

ALP fear their National Broadband Network policy has been leaked to the Liberal Party.

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The Labor Party has claimed a National Broadband Network (NBN) employee took photos of seized documents during late night raids on its offices and forwarded them on to colleagues.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers executed the warrants on shadow communications minister Stephen Conroy's office, and the home of Labor party adviser Andy Byrne shortly before 11pm on Thursday night, and did not leave until just before 6am Friday.

The AFP confirmed the NBN staffer was present to identify documents during the raids upon Labor's Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices and took 32 photos of seized documents on his mobile phone.

Police said it was normal operational procedure for the NBN officer to be at the raids but the Labor party question why he was allowed to take photos and allegedly disseminate them.

It's unclear which documents were forwarded on, to whom they were sent, and for what purposes.

In a strongly-worded letter obtained by BuzzFeed News, Labor's lawyer Paul Galbally asks AFP Commander Paul Osborne why the NBN staffer allegedly forwarded on pictures of the seized documents after it was agreed they should be deleted.

The letter was written after a meeting on Friday afternoon between Labor's lawyers and the AFP when it was agreed the NBN employee's photos would be downloaded and passed on to the Clerk of the Senate, and then deleted.

"During our meeting I was advised by you that [the NBN staffer] disseminated images of documents obtained in the execution of the warrant to NBN Co Limited in circumstances where a claim of parliamentary privilege had been made to NBN Co Limited," Galbally outlines in his letter.

The letter questions under whose authority the NBN staffer was acting when he forwarded on the documents.

"This act was wrong and, amongst other things, clearly had the potential to undermine my clients' claim for privilege," Gallby said.

Senator Conroy claims the documents are protected by parliamentary privilege and should be held under seal by the Clerk of the Senate.

BuzzFeed News understands that all photos taken by the AFP and the NBN employee have now been deleted from the device and its iCloud account.

But the images that were forwarded on by the NBN staffer do not fall under the removal order.

NBN could be breaking the law by keeping the documents.

Senior Labor sources have confirmed to BuzzFeed News they suspect one of the documents photographed by the NBN staffer was the party's yet to be released NBN policy.

Stefan Postles / Getty Images

Although it's not clear exactly which documents the NBN staffer sent on, Labor has confirmed their unreleased NBN policy was among the documents in Senator Conroy's office.

Labor fears the policy has been leaked to the Liberal Party, and may be given to the media before Bill Shorten gets a chance to announce it during the election campaign.

The Labor Party want the NBN staffer to provide it and the AFP with a list of all the people the documents were forwarded to, so they can be tracked down and deleted.

Karina Keisler, the Executive General Manager of Corporate Affairs at NBN Co, tweeted on Friday the staff was just following the instructions of the AFP.

She tweeted "our staff have followed and complied with instructions from the AFP at all times".

Shadow attorney general Mark Dreyfus says the government has questions to answer over its role in the AFP’s investigation.

Vince Caligiuri / Getty Images

Dreyfus says he accepts that the decision to execute search warrants on Thursday night was made independently by the AFP, but wants to know if the government, through NBN Co, exerted any influence on the investigation.

"Has the PM or his ministers or their staff had conversations with executives of NBN Co… about the conduct of this investigation and has the PM or his ministers or any of their staff sought updates from NBN Co?" he asked at a press conference on Friday morning.

AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin denies these allegations, stating the decision to conduct a raid on Conroy's office was made independently of the government.

BuzzFeed News has asked the AFP and NBN Co why photographs of the documents were forwarded on, and whether all copies of of the photographs will be tracked down and deleted.

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

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