Leave backer walks out on MPs and admits ‘misleading’ voters

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Mr Banks agreed to give evidence to the committee after previously pulling out as he accused MPs of conducting a "witch hunt". It would be nice.

Banks confirmed reports he gave phone numbers for Donald Trump's transition team to Russian officials, after he had met with the USA president-elect in November 2016 in NY.

Citing email correspondence, the Sunday Times said that meeting was set up by Udod and that he was one of 23 suspected Russian spies expelled by Britain following the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March.

On Sunday, it emerged that Banks had two more meetings with Yakovenko than he had previously admitted in the book he penned on the referendum battle, 'The Bad Boys of Brexit.' The final meeting with the Russian ambassador was in November 2016, three days after Banks, Leave.EU's Communications Director Andy Wigmore, and ex-UKIP leader Nigel Farage met Trump in NY after he had been elected president.

Mr Banks also addressed reports from the Sunday Times claiming he held a series of undisclosed meetings with Russian embassy officials around the time of the 2016 referendum campaign.

Banks was being questioned by a committee of lawmakers who are investigating his ties to Cambridge Analytica, the political consultancy at the centre of a scandal over the misuse of millions of Facebook users' data.

He said: "I like to think I'm an evil genius with a white cap who controls all of democracy, but clearly that's not true".

Cambridge Analytica, which was hired by Trump in 2016, has denied its work on the USA president's successful election campaign made use of allegedly improperly harvested data - but questions have since been raised over any role in other votes.

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The watchdog said the group - which was separate from the official pro-Brexit group Vote Leave - failed to report "at least" £77,380 it spent.

The disgraced data-mining company Cambridge Analytica, which was accused of illegally harvesting Facebook profiles to sway the United States election and the Brexit vote, pitched for work with Leave. "I pay a shed-load of tax, probably more than the entire committee put together", he said.

Earlier, Mr Banks told the committee he does not have any business interests in Russian Federation.

He said he did discuss his insurance businesses with Cambridge Analytica, as well as politics, but said there was no conflict in that and reiterated that data from his insurance firms was not used by Leave.EU.

But as part of a broader inquiry into so-called fake news MPs on the media committee are investigating whether Moscow tried to influence public opinion before the referendum, which has divided Britain and tested the authority of Prime Minister Theresa May as negotiations over the divorce continue.

"We were not above using alternative methods to punch home our message or lead people up the garden path if we had to", Banks said. The piece of advice that we got, right from the beginning, was remember referendums are not about facts, it's about emotion and you have got to tap into that'.

Having promised "fireworks" at the hearing, Mr Banks took regular potshots at individual members of the committee, which he claimed was made up of Remain voters.

'So I'm sorry, but I'm afraid it's time to go.