The leader of the UVF-linked PUP has said he believes David Hugh Murphy had become “estranged” from the paramilitary group.
Billy Hutchinson, a Belfast councillor and former UVF convict, also stated firmly that the leadership of the organisation would not have sanctioned his death – the motive for which remains unclear.
Police are currently seeking to identify who was responsible for the killing.
He was shot dead with a shotgun at his rural home in Glenwherry between Ballymena and Larne sometime between Saturday and lunchtime on Tuesday.
Councillor Hutchinson told the News Letter he did not know the deceased.
“I’ve made some enquiries about him to find out,” he said.
“I think he’s estranged from them [the UVF]... somebody told me they fell out with them a number of years ago. I don’t know the exact number.
“But no, I don’t think that connection is still there, is my understanding.”
He suggested the “estrangement” was down to alleged crime on Mr Murphy’s part, adding: “He’d been involved in criminal activity before, and they parted ways. That’s all I know.”
When it comes to the idea that UVF elements could potentially have had a hand in his killing, he said: “This is an educated guess, right? I’d suggest to you that, in terms of the leadership, [they] wouldn’t be involved in this...
“What I am saying to you is I can quite clearly, categorically state that the leadership would not have sanctioned anything like this. I know what their thinking is, and I know that they wouldn’t want this to be done, so therefore nobody has run it past them.
“I don’t want to start talking about rogue elements. But what I’m saying to you is certainly the UVF leadership would not sanction anything like this.
“If I thought there was a renegade element there, I’d say that. I don’t know, because nobody has mentioned it.”