Eastern region MEP’s exclusive account of that UKIP altercation between Steven Woolfe and Mike Hookem
- Credit: Ian Burt
Local MEP Stuart Agnew has described the moment the two MEPs at the centre of an altercation took off their jackets and disappeared into a side room.
The Norfolk farmer and Eastern region MEP, who was chairing the meeting at which the pair fell out, said nobody knows what happened after the two MPs squared up to each other and disappeared into an ante room during a meeting in Strasbourg on Thursday.
Mr Agnew, a long-standing member of the party and one of its most senior MPs, said the meeting had been arranged at breakfast time that day amid rumours leadership favourite Steven Woolfe had been talking to the Conservatives.
He was asked to chair the 10am meeting, which he said started with the MEPs “who knew most about it” outlining the claims to Mr Woolfe.
Mr Agnew said he had asked Mr Woolfe to speak, but he hadn’t spoken for very long when he was interrupted by Mike Hookem, who wanted to talk “about events during the recent leadership campaign”. Mr Agnew said he had told Mr Hookem not to speak, but said: “It was obvious the two wanted to have an argument, which I wasn’t going to permit.”
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“Steve took off his jacket and said, ‘We will sort this out outside’. Hookem took off his jacket and said, ‘All right’.”
Mr Agnew described how the two disappeared into the side room which had two doors – one near each of them.
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“I suddenly realised that this might be more than them having an argument and they might come to blows so I thought I had better get between them.”
He said Mr Woolfe had come stumbling back out, tripping over, and fell on the floor.
“I went around him and confronted Mike Hookem in the ante room. I told him in no uncertain terms to clear off or sit down. He chose to sit down.”
He said that Mr Woolfe had got off the floor and was sitting down and didn’t appear to be nursing injuries and they had continued with the meeting before both left separately.
Mr Woolfe was taken to hospital two hours later following a vote after he was believed to have “collapsed”. Doctors were called and his wife was contacted. He said he had undergone a precautionary brain scan.
Mr Agnew said: “I don’t even know if he was hit. He could have been hit, pushed or simply decided to run away. Nobody knows what happened in the ante room apart from those two.
“I just think it is a shameful episode for the party and extremely embarrassing and it should never have happened. There will be an inquiry and they will be reprimanded, but that is not my role.
“We have got to get over it and elect another leader,” he said.
He added he was supporting another MEP, Bill Etheridge, who he said was the right person for what they wanted to do now.