Mike Hookem: 'I acted in self-defence'

Mike Hookem insisted he acted in self-defence during a "scuffle" with Ukip leadership favourite Steven Woolfe.

The 62-year-old party defence spokesman described the coming together to ITV News as nothing more than a bit of "handbags" - and denied he threw punches.

Mr Woolfe, 49, is currently being kept in a neurological department of a Strasbourg hospital for observations following the clash, which left him suffering with seizures.

On Thursday, MEP Mr Hookem denied he was responsible for Mr Woolfe's injuries and "absolutely" denied he had punched him.

Mr Hookem described how the clash erupted during a meeting of the party's MEPs to discuss reports that Mr Woolfe had been in talks about defecting to the Conservatives.

He told ITV News Mr Woolfe had objected to remarks he then made about Mr Woolfe's previous attempt to run for party leadership, where he failed to submit relevant paperwork on time.

"When he came onto the part where he said he got his paperwork in late, I disputed that, and I said the only person to blame for that was yourself", he said.

Mr Hookem said his colleague then "took exception" to the comment, whereupon he stood up in front of everyone.

"He said 'well, if it's taking that tone let's me and you take this out of the room', and his words were 'mano a mano'", he said.

"He's then exiting the room, taking his jacket off into a small ante-room where I followed him into".

Nigel Farage has launched an inquiry into the incident Credit: PA

Mr Hookem said it was "absolutely untrue" that he then landed a blow on Mr Woolfe.

"We'd gone into that room the pair of us. He came at me and it was basically an embarrassing tussle - handbags at dawn", he said.

"It should never have happened. It was embarrassing. There wasn't one punch thrown or landed by me or him. None whatsoever".

He added: "It was a scuffle which literally lasted seconds".

Asked how Mr Woolfe banged his head, Mr Hookem said he had "no idea".

"What happened after that meeting I have no idea because I had to leave that meeting early", he said.

"The door opened as his colleagues came in, I was stood back from him then, he fell back into the room and he fell onto another male colleague that was standing in the doorway.

"I never saw him hit his head on any glass, any metal or any chair. He got up, he never held his head he never complained that he hit his head in any way".

Mike Hookem described the clash as a bit of 'handbags' Credit: PA

Mr Hookem said he was "very concerned" for Mr Woolfe's well-being and pleased that he was making a recovery.

"Whatever caused that seizure, or whatever it was, was not not me, and it was not by my hand. I did not punch him".

Mr Hookem said he had received an email on Friday from Mr Woolfe in an offer of friendship, something he received warmly.

However, he will not vote for him in the upcoming Ukip leadership elections.

Asked if he would accept a suspension, Mr Hookem replied: "If they suspend me, yes. By our rules if they suspend me they have to suspend Steven Woolfe".