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Northern Ireland health minister sues Van Morrison over Covid comments

The 'Brown Eyed Girl' singer branded Robin Swann as “very dangerous” at an event in June

By Hollie Geraghty

Van Morrison wears a hat and sunglasses performing in front of a microphone in 2017
Morrison's representatives said the singer "regrets that Mr Swann considered it necessary to issue proceedings". (Photo: YouTube).

Northern Ireland’s health minister is suing Van Morrison after the singer called him “very dangerous” in relation to his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In June, the singer chanted an anti-lockdown rant at a Belfast event in which he branded Robin Swann as “very dangerous”.

Swann’s solicitor Paul Tweed said proceedings were “at an advanced stage”, according to the BBC, and a hearing is expected in early 2022.

Morrison’s solicitor in response said that the singer “regrets that Mr Swann considered it necessary to issue proceedings”.

John J Rice & Co also said he was “disappointed by the publicity that surrounds the issue of the proceedings”.

It added: “This firm can confirm that a defence has been served on behalf of Mr Morrison to the proceedings brought by Mr Swann.

“Mr Morrison asserts within that defence that the words used by him related to a matter of public interest and constituted fair comment.”

The case also relates to two other incidents, including when the singer referred to Swann as a “fraud” in a media interview, and a YouTube video in which he repeated the “dangerous” claim.

The ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ singer has been outspoken against lockdowns, last year releasing anti-lockdown songs ‘Born To Be Free’, ‘As I Walked Out’, ‘No More’ and ‘Stand And Deliver’ with Eric Clapton.

A press release announcing the first three songs read: “Morrison makes it clear in his new songs how unhappy he is with the way the Government has taken away personal freedom.”

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Morrison praised collaborator Clapton as the “only other person who has any traction or motivation to speak out about what’s going on, to get out there and question things”.

Swann said in an op-ed for Rolling Stone last year that the words in the new songs would “give great comfort to the conspiracy theorists – the tin foil hat brigade who crusade against masks and vaccines.”

He added that the singer’s lyrics about how “governments are deceiving people and wanting to ‘enslave’” is actually a “smear on all those involved in the public health response to a virus that has taken lives on a massive scale”.

In August Morrison dropped a legal challenge that planned to challenge a ban on live music due to Covid restrictions.