A new book places Julie Bishop's chief of staff, Murray Hansen, at the September 13 meeting of Liberal MPs and Malcolm Turnbull supporters where it was ultimately decided the group would challenge the leadership of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
It's the first time anyone from the deputy Liberal leaders' inner-sanctum has been connected with the secret meeting on the eve of the challenge at the home of Eden-Monaro MP Peter Hendy, and contradicts Bishop's version of events, The Australian has reported.
The claims have been made in a new book, Battleground, written by Wayne Errington and Peter van Onselen.
The Australian reports Bishop and Hansen would not comment on the allegations.
Abbott supporters claim the new information suggest Ms Bishop was more heavily involved in the leadership spill than previously thought, and held off on informing Abbott about the looming challenge for longer than she has disclosed.
“Hendy had worked alongside Hansen for Bishop while trying to win the seat of Eden-Monaro,’’ Errington and van Onselen wrote.
“Hansen said little at the meeting but his presence spoke volumes.’’
Ms Bishop has stated she knew nothing of a challenge up until the night before the ballet was held.