Ukip's Mike Hookem avoids suspension over brawl as French police called in

YORKSHIRE UKIP MEP Mike Hookem has avoided suspension from the party over the altercation which left former leadership contender Steven Woolfe in hospital.

Ukip MEPs Steven Woolfe (left) and Mike Hookem have been reported to French police over their altercation at the European Parliament which plunged crisis-hit Ukip into further turmoil.

Mr Woolfe quit the party and abandoned his leadership bid after the fracas with Mr Hookem in the European Parliament building in Strasbourg on October 6.

European Parliament president Martin Schulz has referred the “regrettable” incident to the French police “given the seriousness of the reported facts and their possible criminal implications”.

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Ukip has now concluded its internal inquiry into the incident and said it was “impossible” to determine what happened as there were no eye witnesses.

Party chairman Paul Oakden said he was “appalled” by the situation and revealed he “strongly considered” suspension as an option.

But he stressed that Mr Hookem apologised and showed regret for joining Mr Woolfe in the ante room where the altercation took place outside a meeting of party MEPs.

Mr Oakden also said Mr Hookem, “whilst foolish, was not the instigator of this incident or subsequent press coverage and as such cannot be held principally responsibly for either taking place”.

He added: “In light of this, a formal reprimand will be placed on Mr Hookem’s internal record, to be considered in the event of a re-occurrence of any infraction which might cause damage to the reputation of the party.

“Both I, and this investigation now consider this matter closed”.

Commenting on the inquiry, Mr Hookem repeated his assertion that he never hit Mr Woolfe.

“It’s clear from the report that Woolfe instigated the altercation,” he said in a statement.

“As I have admitted, I should not have risen to the bait and gone outside the room.

“But I reiterate, I did not hit him.

“It’s unfortunate that, as the report found, he fell and banged his head after falling backwards through an opened door.

“However, there is no evidence to suggest that I hit him at any time.”

Mr Woolfe abandoned his bid to become Ukip leader last week, claiming the party was “ungovernable” without Nigel Farage at the helm.

He stood by his claim that he had “received a blow” from Mr Hookem during the altercation and revealed he had made a police complaint about the incident.

Mr Woolfe, who will sit as an independent, said last week that the incident led to him being treated by doctors for two seizures, partial paralysis and the loss of feeling in his face and body.

He insisted a blow from Mr Hookem knocked him back into the meeting room where Ukip MEPs were discussing reports that Mr Woolfe was in talks about defecting to the Conservatives.

Mr Hookem has said Mr Woolfe’s political career “was over once he showed disloyalty to the Ukip party and membership when he held talks to join the Tories”.

Mr Woolfe had been seen as frontrunner in the race to replace Diane James, whose term as Ukip leader lasted just 18 days.

The new Ukip leader will be announced on November 28, with nominations to replace Ms James closing on October 31.

Among the contenders are Suzanne Evans, Paul Nuttall and Raheem Kassam.

Also running is John Rees-Evans, who apologised this week over his controversial 2014 claim that a “homosexual donkey” tried to rape his horse, describing the comments as “playful banter”.