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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 June, 2004, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
Ring man's terror charge upheld
Ferry at Troon
Troon ferry port, where Rankin was stopped
Judges have upheld a terrorism conviction against a Scottish man who wore a ring bearing the initials of a loyalist paramilitary organisation.

Police stopped flute band member James Rankin at Troon ferry port when they saw the letters UVF, which stand for Ulster Volunteer Force.

He was convicted of wearing articles likely to arouse suspicion that he was a member or supported the organisation.

Rankin's challenge was thrown out at the appeal court in Edinburgh.

Rankin, from Hamilton, was admonished by Sheriff Neil Gow at Ayr after being convicted of an offence under the Terrorism Act 2000 but decided to take the issue to appeal judges.

His counsel argued that the law should not be read as criminalising behaviour that might be regarded as simply foolish or a display of bravado.

That these initials represent the Ulster Volunteer Force is well-known both in Ulster and the west of Scotland
Lord Hamilton
Appeal judge
However, Lord Hamilton, one of the three appeal judges, said that while the offence might be at the less serious end of the spectrum it was not, in their view, outside the legislation.

Rankin, 42, was stopped at the Ayrshire port after returning from a trip to Belfast.

He was wearing a ring on his wedding finger inscribed with the initials UVF and other jewellery, including a pendant and ring, which attracted police attention.

Union Flag

The warehouseman told police that he wore the ring as a wedding ring and he was not a member or supporter of the UVF.

His wife Mary told his trial that she had given him the ring four or five years earlier and that neither she nor her husband were supporters of the outlawed Ulster Volunteer Force.

The court heard that Rankin carried the Union Flag in a Protestant flute band and had been to Belfast for 12 July parades.

Lord Hamilton said: "That ring was being so worn on the appellant's finger that these initials could readily be seen.

"That these initials represent the Ulster Volunteer Force is well-known both in Ulster and the west of Scotland.

"While the manner and circumstances of the offending in this case may, as reflected by the sheriff's proposal, be at the less serious end of the spectrum of conduct against which the section strikes, it is not, in our view, outwith the range of legislative intent."

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