Steven Woolfe and Mike Hookem, the two UKIP MEPs who yesterday (6 October) fought in the European Parliament, face suspension and a cut in their daily expenses, after an investigation was launched by European Parliament President Martin Schulz.
Schulz could ban the Eurosceptics from claiming the controversial daily €304 allowance that MEPs get for turning up to work. The punishment could last for up to ten days, potentially costing the two men €3,040 each in lost claims.
Woolfe was rushed to hospital after the punch-up in Strasbourg, and there were fears he could have suffered life-threatening injuries. The favourite to take over the UKIP leadership had collapsed but was later pictured smiling in his hospital bed alongside his ally, Nigel Farage.
President Schulz, who has clashed with UKIP in the past, has ordered the Parliament’s advisory committee for the code of conduct to investigate the brawl. The advisory committee, which is made up of other MEPs, will speak to Woolfe and UKIP defence spokesman Hookem.
After the committee report, Schulz will decide the eventual punishment, ranging from a written or verbal warning, the cut in expenses, to the removal of European Parliament offices held by an MEP. Even if Woolfe and Hookem are suspended, they can still vote in plenary.
Schulz said, “I would, first of all, like to wish a speedy recovery to Steven Woolfe, MEP, who is currently hospitalised.
“The reported facts are extremely serious. It goes without saying that disrespectful and violent behaviour does not have a place in the European Parliament.
“As a consequence, and regardless of the possible judicial consequences that this incident may also have, I have decided today to refer this very regrettable matter to the Advisory Committee established by the code of conduct, and asked for it to be dealt with as a matter of urgency next week.”
Chairman of the Advisory Committee, Sajjad Karim, a British Conservative MEP, told EURACTIV.com he would deliver a speedy and fair hearing. He has written to Schulz about the brawl.
Karim has ordered Parliament staff to immediately preserve any CCTV footage of the fight because there have been conflicting reports over what happened. He urged witnesses to contact the committee’s secretariat.
Yesterday, no complaint had yet been made to Strasbourg police. Interim UKIP leader Farage has launched his own investigation into the incident.
Sanctions under rule 166 of the Parliament’s rules of procedure apply in “exceptionally serious cases of disorder or disruption”.
Woolfe today offered his opponent “the hand of friendship”.
— Sajjad Karim MEP (@SHKMEP) October 7, 2016