PUP member Colin Fulton tells court: I'm not a member of the UVF, I never have been and never will be
A Progressive Unionist Party member's life has been "turned upside down" by newspaper allegations of loyalist paramilitary involvement, he told the High Court today.
Colin Fulton denied ever being a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force, insisting the organisation's flag was only flown outside his home to mark the centenary of the old UVF.
The 39-year-old south Belfast man is suing the Sunday World for alleged harassment.
He claims a series of articles about him have put his life at increased risk from dissident republicans.
Mr Fulton has received at least six separate warnings from police that he is under threat - four of them coming after the Sunday World began claiming he has a paramilitary role.
Last year he failed in a legal bid to have the newspaper gagged from reporting his alleged links to the UVF.
As the hearing of his main damages action continued today he was cross-examined about being the "go-to person" for police dealing with an outbreak of rioting near Broadway roundabout.
Mr Fulton insisted he was acting as a community representative in the Village area where he lives, adding that no-one else would speak to the PSNI.
He rejected suggestions that such a step would require UVF authorisation.
Referring to the Sunday World reports, he added: "They have branded me a member of the UVF and turned my life upside down.
"I'm not a member of the UVF, I never have been and never will be."
Pressed later by Brett Lockhart QC, for the newspaper, Mr Fulton indicated he had no knowledge of the organisation being involved in drug dealing or extortion rackets.
Asked what the purpose was for an organisation supposedly on ceasefire, he replied: "I agree 110%, what is the reason for their existence."
Mr Lockhart also put it to the plaintiff that a decision to fly a UVF flag outside his home in 2012 was "remarkable".
The barrister said: "It was the only flag like that on the street."
He contended that it amounted to "a very public demonstration of one's colour".
Disagreeing with the assessment, Mr Fulton insisted: "I had it up because of the 100th anniversary of the UVF."
But counsel for the newspaper suggested that he may have already been warned of the threat against him by that stage.
"You have a certain desire to be conspicuous," he claimed.
"At a time when you received two death threats you're quite happy to put up a UVF flag outside your house."
He questioned whether it was Fulton "giving the bird to the other side".
The PUP man replied that not many Catholics go up and down his street.
When it was put to him that it had ben a reckless act, he agreed: "Probably, when you put it like that, yes."
The case continues.