FORMER Conservative MP Mark Reckless, who triggered a by-election when he defected to UKIP, is to stand as a candidate for South Wales East in May’s Assembly election, it has been reported.

The former MP has been selected to contest a seat for UKIP, while former Tatton MP Neil Hamilton will stand in Mid and West Wales, reports have said.

Mr Reckless was elected as Conservative MP for Rochester and Strood in 2010, but triggered a by-election when he defected to UKIP in September 2014. Although he was re-elected in November 2014, he lost the seat to Conservative candidate Kelly Tolhurst in May 2015.

Pollsters have suggested UKIP could win as many as nine seats in May’s Assembly election.

It has also been reported UKIP Wales leader Nathan Gill will run for North Wales, while member of the party’s National Executive Committee Caroline Jones will contest a South Wales West seat and Gareth Bennett will stand in South Wales Central.

The four South Wales East seats are currently held by Mohammad Asghar and William Graham, both Conservatives, as well as Plaid Cymru AMs Jocelyn Davies and Lindsay Whittle.

UKIP has not responded to requests for comment.