Piracy claims over Malcolm Turnbull's book to be referred to the AFP

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. Source: AAP

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull's memoir is being launched amid claims by its publisher a pirated copy was circulated within the Morrison government.

The publisher of Malcolm Turnbull's memoir say they will refer piracy claims over the book to the Australian Federal Police. 

The publisher Hardie Grant told the ABC the matter would be escalated after they earlier sent cease and desist notices to a top aide within Prime Minister Scott Morrison's office for allegedly circulating pirated copies of the e-book. 

Senior cabinet ministers were sent copies of Mr Turnbull's memoir, which his publisher has blamed on one of Mr Morrison's staff.

Nick Louw, a senior adviser to the Prime Minister, has reportedly apologised for circulating illegal copies of A Bigger Picture ahead of its public release on Monday.

Mr Turnbull told Guardian Australia Mr Louw had contacted his lawyers and acknowledged he had circulated the digital version of the book to 59 acquaintances.

The former prime minister said the only reason for circulating the book in large numbers would be to reduce earnings from regular sales.

"This is a matter of principle. Copyright theft costs hundreds of jobs," he told the Guardian.

Publisher Hardie Grant claims someone within Mr Morrison's office had circulated the book to people who then reported the "illegal edition".

The publisher's law firm HWL Ebsworth sent a cease and desist notice to the staff member.

"Piracy is a problem for bestselling books," Hardie Grant chief executive Sandy Grant said in a statement.

"Our lawyers have taken immediate action to make it clear we intend to take action against the person seemingly distributing A Bigger Picture widely and illegally, as well as any site sharing the file."

Malcolm Turnbull's publisher alleges a staffer in Scott Morrison's office sent pirated copies of the book.
Malcolm Turnbull's publisher alleges a staffer in Scott Morrison's office sent pirated copies of the book.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne denied the copy she was sent came from the prime minister's office.

"I've received and deleted and I would encourage anyone who has received (it) to do the same thing," she told the ABC.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said a personal friend outside the government sent him the book.

"I received it on WhatsApp and I deleted it immediately - I didn't think (it) was appropriate," he told reporters.

He said it wasn't fair to take away the livelihoods of people trying to make an honest dollar.

Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has a chapter dedicated to him called "Barnaby and the bonk ban" about his spectacular falling out with Mr Turnbull after his affair with a staffer became public.

Mr Joyce isn't sympathetic about the book being pirated.

"He never respected anyone's confidence and it looks like no one respected his copyright," he told Seven's Sunrise on Monday.

"When Churchill had some spare time he wrote the history of the English-Speaking Peoples and won a Nobel Prize for literature.

"But Malcolm wrote this rubbish - it's just a 'get square' book."

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