Attorney General Marie-Claude Blais says the investigation is taking place independently of her. (CBC)

The office of the attorney general has ordered an independent investigation into how a legal document regarding former Premier Shawn Graham's legal fees in the Atcon investigation was leaked to the media.

The Opposition Liberals contend the leak was politically motivated, intended to embarrass their party and that it violates the non-partisanship of the attorney general's office.

Attorney General Marie-Claude Blais says the leak did not come from her office, but won't say who else had access to the document or how it could have been leaked.

As an elected MLA, Blais said she is keeping her distance from the investigation and that it's being conducted independently of her.

"I am not privy to how or when. I need to erect that Chinese Wall. It needs to be there in order to protect the integrity of the office," she said.

"The investigation is undertaken under the direction of the deputy attorney general so I can't comment on that. Certainly I don't even know what the paper you're referring to is."


Former Premier Shawn Graham officially resigned as the Liberal MLA for Kent on March 11. (CBC)

The document, obtained by several journalists earlier this month, was a letter about taxpayers paying Graham's $72,000 legal bill in the Atcon conflict-of-interest case.

The Liberals had claimed the Alward government had approved that expense, but the letter showed there was an agreement shortly after the conflict complaint May 2010, when Graham was still the premier.

Earlier this month, the Liberals had called for a criminal investigation into the leak.

It is standard practice for the executive council office to pay legal bills for cabinet ministers in these instances, according to the department.

Graham resigned his seat as the Liberal MLA for Kent in February after the province's conflict of interest commissioner ruled he had been in a conflict in the awarding of $50 million in loan guarantees to the Miramichi-based Atcon and recommended he be fined $3,500.

Civil servants recommended against giving the company the loan guarantees, but the Graham government pushed forward with the bailout against their advice.

Atcon subsequently went bankrupt and taxpayers have recovered a fraction of that investment.

Graham's father Alan Graham, a former cabinet minister, was a director with a Swedish subsidiary of Atcon, called Vänerply.