NICOLA Sturgeon has been urged to explain whether she misled parliament by claiming to have created a fracking ban, after the government’s own lawyer denied it in court.

The Scottish Conservatives said the SNP government’s position was now “beyond humiliating” after it appeared to reverse its position at the Court of Session.

The Tories also published a list of 10 times senior SNP figures, including Ms Sturgeon, claimed fracking was banned north of the border last year.

Petrochemical companies Ineos and Reach CSG are seeking a judicial review of the “effective ban” in order to allow the controversial gas technology in Scotland.

READ MORE: Scottish ministers ban fracking amid 'overwhelming' public opposition

In October, energy minister Paul Wheelhouse told MSPs that, after a two year moratorium on fracking and amid overwhelming public opposition, the government had created an “effective ban” through planning powers, by forbidding councils from allowing it to take place.

Two days later the First Minister told MSPs: “Let me be clear, because to some ears, it will sound as if some members are dancing on the head of a pin: fracking is being banned in Scotland - end of story.

“There will be no fracking in Scotland, and that position could not be clearer.”

However on Tuesday this week, the government’s lawyer, advocate James Mure QC, said SNP ministers had “not yet adopted a position” after all.

He said: “The concept of an effective ban is a gloss. It is the language of a press statement. “What they have done is to announce a preferred position on the issue.”

Arguing the judicial review action was premature, he said the policy position would not be finalised until October this year, after an environmental and strategic assessment.

His comments are at odds with a series of public SNP statements that a ban does exist.

READ MORE: Fracking not banned after all, SNP government tells court​

Mr Wheelhouse told MSPs in October: “I give reassurance… there is, in effect, a ban on unconventional oil and gas activities in Scotland.”

Transport minister Humza Yousaf also told SNP conference in October: “Under the SNP’s watch there will be no fracking in Scotland! And for the benefit of Scottish Labour who are somehow still greeting about our ban on fracking, bizarrely claiming it isn’t a ban – It is.”

The SNP’s website currently states: “The Scottish Government has put in place a ban on fracking in Scotland - meaning fracking cannot and will not take place in Scotland.”

Tory MSP Alexander Burnett said: “This is now beyond humiliating for the SNP. It would be funny were it not so serious. People will be stunned that a QC representing the SNP government in court could so spectacularly contradict the claims and parliamentary statements of Nicola Sturgeon and Paul Wheelhouse.

“Both should explain to parliament as a matter of urgency why these seemingly misleading statements were made. More seriously, it also confirms this fracking ban is a game to the SNP, aimed at pandering to the extreme elements in the independence-supporting green lobby.

"In the process, Scotland risks missing out on an economic boom and the chance to lower people’s energy bills at a time of serious fuel poverty.”

READ MORE: Fracking challenge to begin at Court of Session

Ministers introduced a moratorium on fracking, which involves pumping water and chemicals at high pressure into shale beds to release gas, at the start of 2015.

Critics say it contributes to climate change and poses a risk to public health.

Ineos, who operate the Grangemouth refinery and currently import shale gas from the US in supertankers, say a local supply could help sustain jobs and boost the economy.

The SNP said the Tory claims "defy belief"

A spokesperson said: "If the Tories are right – and they are not – why has Ineos taken its case against a ban to the Court of Session?

“There is no fracking in Scotland and there can be no fracking in Scotland. That’s because the SNP has taken decisive action, which builds on our existing moratorium.

“And let’s not forget, the Scottish Government’s plans won the support of the Scottish Parliament.

"The SNP has taken a cautious, evidence-led approach and is implementing a ban in line with the views of the vast majority of Scottish people, who cited concerns for the environment, their communities, and the impact on public health. 

"Why the Tories want to frack under people's homes – despite the strength of public opposition – is anyone's guess."