Neil Hamilton, the Welsh Ukip chief, has suggested Steven Woolfe “picked a fight and came off worst” before being taken to hospital after collapsing in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Mr Woolfe, the favourite to succeed Nigel Farage as leader following the sudden resignation of Diane James, is currently in hospital amid reports he was involved in altercation during a meeting of the Eurosceptic party’s MEPs.
But appearing on Sky News Mr Hamilton, when asked if he had any information relating to the altercation, replied: “I understand there was an argument between some MEPs and Steven, I think, picked a fight with one of them and came off worst.
"But that’s what I’ve heard second hand and remains to be seen what the full truth is. I don’t know what his current condition is – it’s obviously a serious matter if he’s been carted off to hospital with bleeding on the brain as I understand it."
Sources reported that Mr Woolfe was punched in the face after exchanges at the gathering became heated, before stumbling and hitting his head. Interim leader Nigel Farage added the Ukip immigration spokesman was in a "serious condition" after the incident, but later reported that he had regained consciousness.
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According to Sky News, Mr Woolfe was punched by a colleague before staggering and knocking his head on a bar. He was seemingly alright after the fight and went to vote. But later on Mr Woolfe was seen to collapse on one of the building's internal bridges. He reportedly told the person who rushed over to assist him that he had "lost the feeling down one side of his body".
The 49-year-old MEP said later in a statement that a CT scan had shown that there was no blood clot on his brain but that he was being kept in hospital overnight as a precaution. "At the moment I am feeling brighter, happier, and smiling as ever. As a precaution, I am being kept in overnight awaiting secondary tests to make sure everything in fine," he said.
"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 left hand side of my face. "
Mr Woolfe, the party’s high-profile immigration spokesman and an MEP, had announced his intention to stand for Ukip leader on Wednesday in the wake of Diane James’s resignation just 18 days after she secured the nominations from party members to take over from Mr Farage.