UKIP MEP Steven Woolfe claims party colleague 'came at me'

Party leadership candidate hospitalised after alleged fight at European Parliament

Steven Woolfe

UKIP MEP Steven Woolfe | File photo: PA Images

UKIP MEP Steven Woolfe has claimed a party colleague at the European Parliament "came at me and landed a blow" in a row over the party's leadership contest.

Mr Woolfe, 49, is recovering in hospital after he collapsed and was briefly unconscious following the incident at the European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday.

He suffered two seizures - one of them "quite major" following the argument, according to acting UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who has ordered an inquiry into the incident.

"We're talking about a dispute which ended up physically," Mr Farage said, adding there were briefly concerns whether Mr Woolfe "was going to make it".

Mr Woolfe, who hopes to become the party's new leader, accused MEP Mike Hookem of losing his temper and pushing him into a door frame during a meeting designed to clear the air between UKIP's MEPs.

But Mr Hookem, 62, denied he hit his colleague and suggested the MEP for North West England tripped instead.

He told the Daily Mail: "Mike was obviously very angry and lost his temper.

"I wasn't bruising for a scrap. I asked to deal with the matter outside of the room because it was flaring up in the meeting and upsetting everybody, and Mike clearly read that totally the wrong way.

"It was a completely unexpected incident.

"Mike came at me and landed a blow. The door frame took the biggest hit after I was shoved into it and I knew I'd taken a whack and was pretty shaken."

After the incident, Mr Woolfe attended a voting session at parliament but left when he felt unwell. Some time later he collapsed outside the main chamber and was rushed to hospital.

Mr Hookem told the Mail: "I did not hit Steven and I did not see him hit his head."

The incident threatens to further damage the reputation of UKIP, which is locked in a leadership crisis following the resignation of Diane James just 18 days after she was elected as leader.

Mr Woolfe had announced he will run for leader in the next election, after he was barred from standing in the leadership contest over the summer for missing the nomination deadline by 17 minutes.

But there were claims that he had angered some MEPs by recently admitting that he had considered defecting to the Conservatives.