France - European Parliament

French authorities asked to look into UKIP scuffle

This file photo taken on March 4, 2015, shows United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) Migration spokesman Steven Woolfe addressing supporters and media personnel in central London.
This file photo taken on March 4, 2015, shows United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) Migration spokesman Steven Woolfe addressing supporters and media personnel in central London. AFP/Leon Neal

European Parliament head Martin Schulz said Wednesday he would ask the French authorities to look into a violent altercation which left the favourite to lead the anti-EU UK Independence Party, Steven Woolfe, in hospital.

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"Given the seriousness of the incident -- we are talking about punches and injuries with penal implications -- we have to continue to try and clear up what happened," Schulz told MEPs.

"I have therefore decided to follow the recommendation of the (code of conduct) committee and ask the French authorities to look into the matter," he told Parliament sitting in Strasbourg, eastern France.

Schulz said those involved in the early October incident had given very different accounts of what happened and there appeared to be no witnesses.

"But very clearly it involved a blow to the head," he said, adding that he had no doubt about Woolfe's version of events.

Woolfe spent several days in hospital, claiming that his erstwhile colleague Mike Hookem had been involved.

Reports said the row came after Woolfe admitted he had considered joining Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party.
Hookem has denied the allegations.

Woolfe later withdrew from both the UKIP leadership contest and the party which he said had no future without long-time leader Nigel Farage.

Farage and UKIP played a major role in winning Britain's shock June vote to quit the European Union but he then stepped down, saying his work was done.

Farage told MEPs on Wednesday that "while it is regrettable that two of our MEPs fronted up to each other, there is no evidence that anybody was punched at all ... I would like to put that on the record."

He tried to make light of the issue, inviting anyone who disagreed "to come outside with me (and) we could have a civilized conversation over a cup of coffee."
 

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