DISGRACED former Tory MP Neil Hamilton could stand in the South Basildon and East Thurrock seat for Ukip at next year’s General Election, according to party insiders.

Mr Hamilton, who became embroiled in a “cash-for-questions”

scandal in the Nineties, is one of five names on a party shortlist to fight for Conservative Stephen Metcalfe’s seat next May, sources have claimed.

The candidate will be chosen at a hustings in Crest Avenue, Pitsea, from 7pm tomorrow.

There has been widespread speculation over who would stand after Ukip deselected Basildon group leader Kerry Smith in October, despite him previously being chosen as candidate by the local branch.

Two sources close to the party revealed Mr Hamilton, Ukip’s deputy chairman, and Ian Luder, Basildon Hospital chairman, who announced he is leaving the role next March, had made it on to the list.

Echo: Former Tory MP Neil Hamilton on UKIP campaign trail

Campaign: Neil Hamilton supporting Ukip

One said: “Neil Hamilton is the favourite for the seat. He was going to stand for the party in Boston and Skegness, but pulled out before the candidate was announced last month.

“I understand he was allowed to choose where he wanted to stand after that and went for Basildon.”

The source said Mr Hamilton was close to Ukip leader Nigel Farage. Mr Luder is also close to party heavyweights.

Mr Metcalfe said he would not comment in detail on the choice of candidates by Ukip until it was announced who would be standing, but said it was still no clearer why Kerry Smith was deselected.

He added: “I am prepared to fight whoever is selected and look forward to it as only a Tory Government will be able to deliver on promises due to our relationship with Europe.”

Mr Smith said: “Considering the party line I was dropped for having a lack of experience, it would make sense to have a former Parliamentarian on the list, but branch members and the chairman are angry about these selections.”

Echo: UKip councillor Kerry Smith is campaigning for traffic calming measures in London Road, Vange.

Deselected: Kerry Smith

Clive Broad, chairman of Ukip south Basildon and East Thurrock branch said: “We were pretty disgusted about there even having to be a hustings after Kerry was originally chosen by the branch. These candidates, most of who have had no involvement locally, have been forced upon us and we don’t get any answers why. We spent a lot of time and money promoting Kerry. He is who we want in place. I got involved in UKip because I thought it was a democratic party.”

Jamie Huntsman, Ukip regional organiser confirmed five candidates were on the shortlist, but did not confirm any names.

Michael Heaver, Ukip regional spokesman, added: “I can’t disclose the details of shortlists before the party’s selection process has taken place as it could have an effect on the outcome.”

Mr Hamilton, who joined Ukip in 2011, was unavailable for comment.

Echo: Neil and Christine Hamilton

Double act: Neil and Christine Hamilton

Mr Hamilton was MP for Tatton constituency in Cheshire, from 1983 to 1997 when he lost his seat.

The defeat followed the highprofile cash for questions scandal and pleas from Tory HQ for him not to contest it.

In October 1994 the Guardian published allegations that he and another Tory minister, Tim Smith, were paid by former Harrods boss Mohammed Al- Fayed to ask questions on his behalf in the House of Commons.

Mr Smith immediately resigned, but Mr Hamilton protested his innocence before resigning from Government five days later.

He later lost a subsequent libel action against the paper in 1996 before a Parliamentary inquiry began.

Mr Hamilton and wife Christine Hamilton, pictured right, went on to appear in a series of TV shows including a Louis Theroux documentary in 2001 and appears regularly on This Morning breakfast show.

Echo: New Basildon Hospital chairman Ian Luder

Stepped down: Ian Luder

Mr Luder announced he will not be standing for a second term at Basildon Hospital when his current run expires in March 2015 last month.

Mr Luder, who has worked alongside chief executive Clare Panniker to see the once-failing trust rated “good” by the Care Quality Commission, said he was leaving for personal reasons and it was time a new chairman took over.

He joined the trust as chairman in April 2012 and oversaw the appointment of Mrs Panniker from predecessor Alan Whittle.

Mr Luder stood for Labour in Yeovil at the 1979 General Election and was Lord Mayor of London from 2008 to 2009.

Who's in the running?

*Neil Hamilton (former Tory MP)

*Ian Luder (Basildon Hospital chairman and former Labour candidate)

*Anne Marie Waters (Formerly Ukip’s candidate for Basildon and Billericay and former Labour activist) 

*Richard Bingley (Labour councillor on Thurrock Council from 2006 to 2010 who defected to Ukip this July)

*Richard King (Ukip member from Ilford)