After a year of sharing anti-lockdown and Covid-19 conspiracy bait under the guise of protest music, Van Morrison is being sued by Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann for defamation. The singer has regarded the health official’s handling of public restrictions as “very dangerous.”
Swann’s lawyer, Paul Tweed, told the Belfast Telegraph’s Sunday Life: “Proceedings have been issued and are ongoing against Van Morrison. We are aiming for a trial in February.”
Representatives for Morrison did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone’s request for comment.
The singer will be represented by lawyer Joe Rice, who told the Associated Press that the claim would be contested on the grounds “that the words used by him related to a matter of public interest and constituted fair comment.”
The clash between Swann and Morrison reached a height in June when the singer responded to the sudden cancellation of an event at Europa Hotel in Belfast due to Covid-19 related restrictions.
“Robin Swann has all the power,” Morrison told the audience at the canceled event. “So I say Robin Swann is very dangerous.” He then led the cheering group in a “Robin Swann is very dangerous” chant.
Last September, Swann penned an op-ed for Rolling Stone addressing Morrison’s public comments and the spread of misinformation as it relates to the ongoing pandemic.
“His words will give great comfort to the conspiracy theorists,” he wrote. “The tinfoil hat brigade who crusade against masks and vaccines and think this is all a huge global plot to remove freedoms.”