Clash between two Ukip MEPs 'one of those things that happens between men' - Nigel Farage
Farage feared Ukip MEP would die after clash with colleague
A clash between two Ukip MEPs that ended with one of them in hospital was "one of those things that happens between men", Nigel Farage said last night.
The acting Ukip leader said he feared Steven Woolfe, the front-runner in the party's leadership contest, would die after he collapsed after an "altercation" with a fellow MEP in the European Parliament. There were allegations that he had been punched in the face.
The married father-of-one, who is 49 today, fell over during the encounter and banged his head.
He had two "epileptic-like fits" and complained of numbness on his left side, before collapsing two hours after the row yesterday morning. A photograph obtained by ITV News showed him spread-eagled and face down, while an attendant leaned over him.
Speaking from hospital yesterday afternoon, Mr Woolfe said that a CT scan had shown there was no blood clot on his brain and added that he was "feeling brighter, happier, and smiling, as ever".
Ukip refused to deny that Mike Hookem, its defence spokesman and an RAF veteran, was the other MEP involved. A spokesman for Mr Hookem denied that he had punched his colleague, insisting it had been a "verbal altercation".
Mr Farage announced an inquiry but said it was unlikely to lead to suspensions or police involvement. He said: "I don't think that a political party can have an incident like this without having a look at it. I don't see any need for the police to be involved, there are no complaints.
"Somehow I doubt people will be suspended. I won't be on the inquiry myself.
"I suspect it will blow over and be looked back upon as one of these things that happens between men."
Ukip MEPs were holding a "clear-the-air" meeting at the European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday morning. Party insiders said the row erupted when Mr Woolfe admitted he had considered defecting to the Tories having been "enthused" by Theresa May.
During the meeting, one MEP said he wanted to "take this outside", and the pair later clashed after leaving the room.
In his statement, Mr Woolfe added: "As a precaution, I am being kept in overnight awaiting secondary tests to make sure everything is fine."