NICOLA Sturgeon has been locked out of the personal SNP email account she controversially uses to receive “urgent business” from government officials.

The First Minister revealed the security problem in a speech to the media at her party conference in Aberdeen.

It is understood she was locked out for failing to renew her password.

It highlighted Ms Sturgeon’s decision to rely on a single party account. 

The Tories this week accused Ms Sturgeon of “highly suspicious” activity after she admitted she uses her SNP email  for some government business.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon in row over unofficial email account

Last month Ms Sturgeon conspicuously failed to tell MSPs whether she had ever used a personal email for government business when asked directly about it at FMQs.

She only admitted to the SNP account after the Times published a leaked memo on Monday that showed she had used it for the last four years.

It prompted concerns about circumventing freedom of information (FoI) law.

Speaking at the SNP conference on Monday night, Ms Sturgeon told a reception: “I will tell you a true story. This is absolutely the truth. 

“The reason I’m a bit late tonight is that I’ve been trying to put the final touches to my speech for tomorrow, and I got locked out of my SNP email account. 

“I couldn’t send it to any of my SpAds [special advisers].”

After the leaked memo came out, Ms Sturgeon insisted on BBC Radio Scotland that the type of email did not matter as it would be covered by FoI.

However government record systems are subject to rigorous document retention policies.

Ms Sturgeon can delete her SNP emails whenever she likes.

Scotland’s former FoI watchdog, Professor Kevin Dunion, also told MSPs last month that he had never seen an FoI response from the government that included private email accounts.

Civil servants are under a duty to use formal channels for government business.

The November 2015 memo showed one of Ms Sturgeon’s special advisers told civil servants to use Ms Sturgeon’s personal SNP account for “urgent business”.

Katy Bowman, who works in the First Minister’s Private Office, wrote: “As of immediate effect, FM will no longer be personally monitoring her MSP account.

“Instead, she will be using a different account for work. However, this is for urgent business.”

The memo included Ms Sturgeon’s personal email address for reference.

It did not explain why Ms Sturgeon’s SNP email account was preferable to all others. 

SNP email is overseen by Ms Sturgeon's husband, party chief executive Peter Murrell.

READ MORE: Sturgeon urged to come clean on any private email use

Ms Sturgeon told Good Morning Scotland that the Times story was “not really” correct then admitted she hadn’t read it.    

She said: “If I do government business it doesn’t matter if I’m doing in a handwritten form or by email, if it’s government business it’s subject to freedom of information is the basic principle of how that law works.”

Tory MSP Donald Cameron said: "It would appear that the First Minister and her team have not been entirely forthcoming and we have not been given the whole truth.

“The only way to clear this mess up is for her to publish the emails from this account.

“Anything less will be seen by Scots as highly suspicious – what does the First Minister have to hide?”

On the email lockout, he added: “If the First Minister is relying on a single party email out of hours it is obviously a very important and regularly used account.

“While the First Minister and her team are desperately trying to sound casual, they appear to be digging themselves further into a hole.

“The fact that the First Minister’s account is overseen by her husband is an obvious conflict of interest.

“The First Minister must give full information, publish her private emails and demonstrate the same transparency she demands of others.”

Responding to the Tory complaint, a spokesperson for the FM said: "This simply reinforces what we have said previously about the FM's personal ‎email only being used to flag urgent, out of hours issues, which would normally relate to diary matters, such as travel arrangements. 

"And any such emails sent from officials would be from government accounts, and subject to release under freedom of information.”