FORMER Basingstoke MP Andrew Hunter is recovering in hospital after suffering a stroke.

Mr Hunter, who represented the Basingstoke constituency from 1983 until 2005, suffered the stroke on May 3.

Mr Hunter’s daughter Kate Smith told The Gazette: “Fortunately, he was with members of the family at the time, and an ambulance quickly took him to Royal Berkshire Hospital, in Reading, where he was admitted to the acute stroke unit.

“My father was paralysed down the left-hand side of his body, and his speech has been slightly affected. He is receiving regular physical and occupational therapy, and the doctors are hopeful that he will regain the use of his left side.

“He will remain in hospital for several more weeks, although it is hoped that he will shortly be moved to a rehabilitation ward, possibly at a hospital where he can be closer to family and friends. His progress over the last month has been strong, and it is hoped that he will fully recover.”

Mr Hunter, who is 71 and lives near Newbury, was a well-respected and popular MP for Basingstoke during his tenure.

Elected as a Conservative, he withdrew from the Conservative Party in 2002 in order to stand as a candidate of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) for the Northern Ireland Assembly.

While he failed to gain a seat, in December 2004, Mr Hunter – who had been sitting as an Independent Conservative in Parlia-ment since 2002 – announced that he had joined the DUP Parliamentary Group in the House of Commons, becoming the party’s first English MP.

He stood down at the 2005 General Election, and the seat was won by Conservative candidate Maria Miller, who has been Basingstoke MP for the last nine years.