The senior Conservative party backbencher, Andrew Hunter, is expected to stand for the DUP in the Stormont Assembly elections next year.

Mr Hunter is to resign his Westminster seat at the next British general election but will remain as an independent Tory for the remainder of the current parliament.

Mr Hunter, who was a prominent member of the Commons' Northern Ireland Affairs Committee between 1994 and 2001, is being linked with the Lagan Valley constituency.

Local DUP MLA, Edwin Poots, said Mr Hunter's name would go before a constituency selection meeting next Monday.