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Saturday 3 December 2016

Ukip MEP collapses after 'an altercation' at party's meeting

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage

Ukip leadership favourite Steven Woolfe is recovering in hospital after being admitted in a "serious" condition following an altercation at a meeting of the party's MEPs.

The MEP (49) said in a statement that a CT scan had shown that there was no blood clot on his brain but that he was being kept in hospital overnight as a precaution.

"At the moment I am feeling brighter, happier - and smiling, as ever. As a precaution, I am being kept in overnight awaiting secondary tests to make sure everything in fine," he said.

Numbness

"I would like everyone to know that the parliamentary staff, the Ukip MEPs with me and hospital staff have been brilliant. Their care has been exceptional.

"I am sitting up, and said to be looking well. The only consequence at the moment is a bit of numbness on the left hand side of my face.

"The CT scan has shown that there is no blood clot in the brain," he added.

A spokesman said Woolfe, who was marking his 49th birthday, had passed out and had two "epileptic-like fits", but that the tests had ruled out any bleeding on the brain.

In his statement he made no reference to the reported altercation which took place at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

There were unconfirmed reports that Woolfe was punched during the course of an argument, while other reports suggested he hit his head after falling heavily.

A spokeswoman for French national police said that the incident had not been reported to them and they had no current plans to investigate what happened.

"If someone decides to ring and make a complaint, we will of course follow it up," she said.

A spokeswoman for the European Parliament confirmed Mr Woolfe had collapsed in the main building in Strasbourg, and said that an investigation into the circumstances was now under way.

The incident left MEPs and activists reeling in a party which has at times appeared to lurch from one crisis to another.

Earlier, party leader Nigel Farage disclosed that Mr Woolfe's collapse followed a confrontation at a meeting, and he added: "I deeply regret that, following an altercation that took place at a meeting of Ukip MEPs this morning, Steven Woolfe subsequently collapsed and was taken to hospital."

A photograph posted on news websites showed the MEP lying spreadeagled and face down on a gangway clutching a briefcase, with an attendant leaning over him.

MEP Roger Helmer, who was at the meeting, confirmed there had been "a lively exchange of views" but said he did not see any physical confrontation.

He said the incident took place "a good two hours" before Mr Woolfe collapsed during a voting session at the parliament.

"There were some lively exchanges of views. I think you'll find that's not uncommon in political meetings. I certainly saw no physical altercation," he said.

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