EU parliament refers scuffling UKIP lawmakers to police

October 26, 2016 6:29 AM EDT

Steven Woolfe, of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), is seen attending a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, July 8, 2015. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler/File photo


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STRASBOURG (Reuters) - French police will look into a scuffle in the European Parliament between two members from the UK Independence Party, which left one in hospital with a head injury, the speaker of the EU legislature said on Wednesday.

President Martin Schulz said an internal inquiry he commissioned had been unable to reconcile the accounts of Mike Hookem, UKIP's defense spokesman, and Steven Woolfe, who collapsed after the incident. No witnesses had come forward.

"Given the seriousness of the reported facts and their possible criminal implications, further evidence is needed to clarify this matter," Schulz told the chamber. "Therefore ... I have referred this matter to the competent French authorities."

Last week, Woolfe, who suffered seizures and spent several days in a Strasbourg hospital, pulled out of the race to succeed fellow MEP Nigel Farage as UKIP leader and quit the party. He said it had become "ungovernable" since it secured its goal of taking Britain out of the EU in a June referendum.[nL8N1CN57V]

Hookem, 62, denied punching Woolfe, 49, outside a party meeting in the Strasbourg parliament building on Oct. 6. The former soldier said it had been "handbags at dawn".[nL5N1CD2OQ]

Schulz said that depending on the outcome of investigations he would consider sanctions, which can include suspensions from voting and a fine of up to about 3,000 euros [nL5N1CD2GF].

($1 = 0.9154 euros)

(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Angus MacSwan)



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