A coal miner's daughter from County Durham has become the latest key witness in the Donald Trump impeachment inquiry.

Fiona Hill was brought up in the North East but moved to the US after university to pursue a PhD in history at Harvard.

She served as a White House analyst on Russia but grew alarmed by how Mr Trump and others in his orbit were conducting foreign policy in Ukraine.

In her evidence on Thursday Ms Hill denounced as "fictional" the contention from some Republicans that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 US election.

 

Mrs Hill was an aide to national security adviser John Bolton but she stressed she is "nonpartisan" and has worked under Republican and Democratic presidents.

In prepared opening remarks to the House Intelligence Committee, she also urged politicians not to "promote politically-driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests".

She added: "I have no interest in advancing the outcome of your inquiry in any particular direction, except toward the truth."

She said the conclusion by US intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the election "is beyond dispute".

 

But she said the assertion by some Republicans that Ukraine interfered in the election "is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves".

She added: "I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimise an alternative narrative that the Ukrainian government is a US adversary, and that Ukraine - not Russia - attacked us in 2016."

Mrs Hill, who has a said US support for Ukraine, "which continues to face armed Russian aggression, has been politicised".

In the past Mrs Hill, who has a "softened but noticeable" North East accent," has been a critic of Russian leader Vladimir Putin and wrote a book called ‘ Mr Putin, Operative in the Kremlin’ a reference to his past in the KGB.

 

Speaking about her background in 2016, Mrs Hill said: “My dad was a coal miner in County Durham .

“I have worked hard and emigrated to the US, and I think of myself as working-class but I’m probably not any more.

“I applied to Oxford in the 80s and was invited to an interview.

“It was like a scene from Billy Elliot : people were making fun of me for my accent and the way I was dressed.”

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“It was the most embarrassing, awful experience I had ever had in my life.”

Appointing Mrs Hill, who has a daughter with fellow academic Kenneth Keen, was seen as a signal of Trump cooling his links with Russia after the President  found his White House under pressure over apparent links to the country.