Injured UKIP legislator discharged from French hospital
FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2014 file photo, Steven Woolfe speaks in London. Party leader Nigel Farage said Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016 that “following an altercation that took place at a meeting of UKIP MEPs this morning ... Steven Woolfe subsequently collapsed and was taken to hospital. His condition is serious.” (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP, File)
October 09, 2016 - 6:57 AM
LONDON - A U.K. Independence Party legislator was discharged from a French hospital on Sunday following an altercation with another senior party member three days ago, officials said.
Steven Woolfe, who had been a leading contender in the race for party leadership, is thought to be returning to Britain.
Woolfe "is focused on continuing his recovery and will not be making any further statements today," UKIP said in a statement Sunday.
A small anti-EU party, UKIP was instrumental in getting Britain to hold a referendum on European Union membership, which ended in a June 23 vote to leave the 28-nation bloc. The result was a political triumph for UKIP, but since gaining its long-sought goal the party has been torn by infighting.
Nathan Gill, a UKIP colleague who had visited Woolfe in the hospital in Strasbourg on Friday, had said that Woolfe was tired of French croissants and wanted to return home for a full English breakfast.
Woolfe, a member of the European Parliament, had been rushed to the hospital Thursday with serious injuries after collapsing following an altercation of some type with fellow UKIP legislator Mike Hookem. They had been at a contentious meeting in the European Parliament building. Woolfe says Hookem punched him, which Hookem denies.
Woolfe later suffered a seizure and collapsed. He was kept in the hospital for several days of tests and observations.
Both men have tried to bolster their version of events. Woolfe's team released a statement Saturday indicating that an independent medical team found the bruising on his face to have been caused by something more than a fall or seizure.
Hookem has released photographs of his unbruised hands on Twitter as a way to illustrate his claim that he hadn't thrown a punch during the scuffle.
"I did not punch, slap or hit Steven Woolfe," it said.
It's not yet clear how the incident will affect the leadership race.
UKIP has been trying to find a replacement for outgoing leader Nigel Farage, but the first leader chosen, Diane James, resigned after less than three weeks in the position.
Farage has returned as interim leader but indicated he doesn't want the permanent post.
A backer of U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, Farage has travelled to St. Louis to attend Sunday's presidential debate, using the occasion to defend Trump's lewd comments about women as "alpha-male boasting."
News from © The Associated Press, 2016