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Ukip MEP Mike Hookem insists altercation with Steven Woolfe was 'verbal' only

Steven Woolfe MEP, favourite for the leadership of Ukip following Diane James’ resignation, earlier released a statement to say his condition is improving.

itv2 Source: ITV News

Updated 10pm

UKIP MEP STEVEN Woolfe is understood to be recovering well in hospital after earlier being hospitalised following an altercation with a fellow MEP.

That MEP is now understood to be Mike Hookem, who is understood to have gotten into a verbal spat with Woolfe during a vote in Strasbourg.

Hookem reportedly confronted Woolfe this morning after it emerged that Woolfe had considered defecting to the Conservatives in the fallout from Diane James resigning as Ukip leader earlier this week.

A spokesperson for Hookem, a veteran of the RAF, this evening insisted that the altercation had been verbal only, and denied that Hookem had punched Woolfe.

Ukip annual conference 2015 Mike Hookem Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

TV footage later showed Woolfe sprawled on a gantry after collapsing. He is believed to have suffered two ‘epileptic-like fits’.

Earlier, Ukip leader Nigel Farage said that Woolfe was in a “serious” condition in hospital after collapsing “following an altercation that took place at a meeting of Ukip MEPs this morning”.

Farage confirmed the news after the party had earlier released a statement saying that he had “suddenly taken ill”.

In a statement released by Woolfe this afternoon, the MEP has said that his condition is improving but that he will be staying in hospital overnight.

Steven Woolfe ill at European Parliament Steven Woolfe was the bookies favourite to lead Ukip after Diane James left the role after less than three weeks. Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

“The CT scan has shown that there is no blood clot in the brain. At the moment I am feeling brighter, happier and smiling as ever,” the statement from Woolfe said.

As a precaution, I am being kept in overnight awaiting secondary tests to make sure everything is fine. 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 let hand side of my face. ”

UK media reported that Woolfe had been punched by a colleague but there was no immediate confirmation from the party.

Another of the leadership candidates Raheem Kassam tweeted that Woolfe’s condition was “life-threatening” before later tweeting that he had “regained consciousness”.

Reports have suggested that Woolfe was punched by one of his colleagues before falling and hitting his head.

Speaking on BBC News, Ukip Welsh Assembly member Neil Hamilton said that this is what he had heard.

Hamilton also said that Woolfe had an argument with MEPs and that he “picked a fight with one of them and came off worst”.

Source: OldQueenTV/YouTube

Only yesterday, Diane James MEP quit the leadership citing “personal and professional reasons” just 18 days after her election to the role.

It transpired that Farage remained as the de-facto leader of the party because James’ position had not yet been formalised by the party.

Woolfe had been the bookies’ favourite to lead the party in the wake of James’s decision.

He had also been the favourite to win a leadership election after Farage stepped down over the summer but was excluded from the ballot for not submitting nomination papers in time.

Farage has ruled out continuing in his leadership of the party, saying that leading a party is a “rotten” job.

- Additional reporting Cianan Brennan

Read: Ukip turmoil as new leader quits just 18 days into the job

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