Colin Powell claims Hillary Clinton's 'people' have been trying to pin email controversy on him

It has been reported that Mr Powell advised Mrs Clinton to use a private email server

Colin Powell claims Hillary Clinton's 'people' have been trying to pin email controversy on him

Former US secretary of state Colin Powell. Image: Carolyn Kaster / AP/Press Association Images

Former US secretary of state Colin Powell has suggested that Hillary Clinton's "people" have been attempting to pin the Democratic candidate's email controversy on him.

It follows reports that Mr Powell had advised Mrs Clinton to use a private email server during her own time as secretary of state.

The New York Times reported last week that Mrs Clinton, when questioned by the FBI, told investigators that she had received the advice from her predecessor.

Journalist Joe Conason is said to write in his upcoming book on Bill Clinton that the exchange between Mr Powell and Mrs Clinton took place during a dinner party at the home of Madeleine Albright - Mr Powell's own predecessor - which was attended by several other former secretaries of state.

Quoted by the Times, Mr Conason writes: “Toward the end of the evening, over dessert, Albright asked all of the former secretaries to offer one salient bit of counsel to the nation’s next top diplomat.

“Powell told her to use her own email, as he had done, except for classified communications, which he had sent and received via a State Department computer.”

Speaking to People magazine, Mr Powell said: "Her people have been trying to pin it on me. The truth is, she was using [the server] for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did."

In an earlier statement, Mr Powell had said he had "no recollection of the dinner conversation", but acknowledged that he did write a memo to Mrs Clinton "describing his use of his personal AOL email account for unclassified messages and how it vastly improved communications within the State Department".

The email controversy has dogged the Clinton campaign in recent months, and the candidate has been frequently criticised by her Republican rival Donald Trump over the issue.

Mrs Clinton has previously apologised for using a private account exclusively from her upstate New York home during her four years as America's highest-ranking diplomat.

She has repeatedly said that no email she sent or received was marked as classified.

She handed over 30,000 of the emails to her former department, but deleted another 30,000 which she said were "personal".

FBI director James Comey concluded that "no charges are appropriate" despite "extremely careless" behaviour by Mrs Clinton and her staff.