UK Independence Party Defence Spokesman Mike Hookem MEP has today denied punching colleague Steven Woolfe MEP during an altercation in the European Parliament, which left Mr Woolfe in hospital, where he is being kept for a further 48 hours as a precautionary measure.
Speaking to BBC Radio Humberside (the area of Yorkshire from which he hails), Mr Hookem said the situation has been “blown out of all proportion”, and claimed that Mr Woolfe initiated the incident, saying that they should sort the matter “mano a mano”, adding: “When I walked in he approached me to attack me. He came at me, I defended myself. There were no punches thrown, there was no face slapping, there were no digs, there was nothing. It’s what people in Hull would term ‘handbags at dawn’. A bit of a scuffle.” Mr Woolfe, speaking to The Sun newspaper last night, said: “Mike came at me and landed a blow. He was obviously very angry and lost his temper. I wasn’t bruising for a scrap. I asked to deal with the matter outside the room because it was upsetting everybody in our meeting. Mike clearly read that totally the wrong way. The door frame took the biggest hit after I was shoved into it. I knew I’d taken a whack and was pretty shaken.”
The incident is being investigated by a five-man committee, one of which is Sajjad Karim MEP, a Conservative who yesterday Tweeted: “It’s great @Steven_Woolfe has 1st rate medical treatment free as Brit #EU citizen in France Thanku @strasbourg!” Through a reciprocal healthcare agreement, Mr Woolfe would have been treated free of charge as all emergencies are covered whether the patient has insurance or not. Raheem Kassam, another contender for the leadership, is urging the party to boycott the investigation.
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