Belfast Telegraph

'UVF man' fails to gag newspaper: Loyalist under threat is author of own misfortune, says judge

BY ALAN ERWIN

A Progressive Unionist Party member has failed to have a newspaper gagged from claiming he is involved with loyalist paramilitaries.

Colin Fulton was seeking an injunction to stop the Sunday World from continuing to report his alleged links to the UVF.

The south Belfast man's lawyers argued that a relentless series of articles about him have put his life at increased risk from dissident republicans.

A High Court judge refused to impose a ban after finding that Mr Fulton had created his own risk by continued public association with notorious UVF members.

In an emphatic endorsement of Press freedom, Mr Justice Gillen said it was in the public interest that investigative journalism should not be impeded from revealing criminal activity allegedly unfolding in a community "bedeviled" by paramilitaries.

"Serious allegations have been made about this man, including thefts from occupied houses, punishment attacks on teenagers of a particularly pernicious nature, an attack on three girls, and participation in illegal drinking clubs in which drugs are sold, in addition to serious involvement in the UVF," he said. "These allegations seethe with the brutality of paramilitary involvement."

Mr Fulton, who denies any role in the UVF, sought the interim injunction as part of a wider harassment claim against the Sunday World.

He has received six separate warnings from police that he is under threat – four of them since Sunday World began claiming he has a paramilitary role.

Lawyers for the newspaper defended the injunction application by insisting Mr Fulton has courted controversy and put himself at risk by attending protests where UVF members were involved.

Ruling on the case, Mr Justice Gillen accepted there is a real and immediate risk to Mr Fulton's life, but rejected the claim that it was linked to the Sunday World reports.

QUOTE

"His (Mr Fulton's) continued association with alleged notorious UVF members and his consequent public exposure, notwithstanding the early threats to his life, suggests that he may be drawn inexorably to activity which generates the threat to his life which he most fears."

Mr Justice Gillen

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