Van Morrison Sued by Northern Ireland Health Minister for Libel Over Anti-Lockdown Remarks

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 27: Singer/songwriter Van Morrison performs to a sold out crowd at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden on February 27, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Listen To The Lion)
AP Photo/Tim Ireland, Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Listen To The Lion

Rock icon Van Morrison is being sued for libel by the Health Minister of Northern Ireland after the singer called him “dangerous” over his coronavirus lockdown policies.

The Health Minister for the British province, Robin Swann has officially launched legal proceedings against Van Morrison and the case is expected to be heard at the High Court early next year. The suit stems from the Brown-Eyed Girl singer calling the minister “very dangerous” at a dinner back in June.

Mr Swann’s legal team is expected to argue that Sir Van’s comments had harmed his reputation by suggesting that he was unfit for office and had endangered the public with this lockdown policies.

While it is almost unheard of for a government official to sue a member of the public in the United States for libel, the laws surrounding such cases are much stricter in Britain, where speech is far more regulated.

Morrison’s solicitor told the BBC that the singer “regrets that Mr Swann considered it necessary to issue proceedings”.

The lawsuit, which makes three allegations of libel, also includes an interview with the Belfast Telegraph’s Sunday Life in June, Morisson said that he didn’t regret calling Mr Swann dangerous, saying “of course, he’s dangerous”.

“He’s a fraud, I believe he’s a fraud. Why should I regret it?” he questioned.

Sir Van went on to say: “He called me dangerous and I’m calling him dangerous,” referring to an interview the Health Minister gave with Rolling Stone magazine, in which Swann chastised the anti-lockdown rocker for giving “comfort to the conspiracy theorists” and “tin foil hat brigade who crusade against masks and vaccines and think this is all a huge global plot to remove freedoms.”

The Belfast Telegraph then alleged that Morrison told their reporter to “fuck off”, adding:  “I can’t hear you with a mask on, you fucking idiot.”

Watch below:

The third charge of libel concerns remarks made on Sir Van’s YouTube channel, including a video entitled “For Clarity”.

In the video, Morrison repeated his claim that the Heath Minister was dangerous and chastised Swann for getting “mixed up” in his business after he released a series of anti-lockdown songs directed at the British government.

“I’m a UK citizen. I live in the UK, work in the UK and pay my taxes in the UK,” he said expressing his shock that a government official would target him personally.

Sir Van, an ardent opponent of lockdown restrictions, had previously launched legal action against the ban by the local government in Northern Ireland on live music to supposedly stem the spread of the Chinese coronavirus. He later dropped the suit in August after the ban was lifted.

If Morrison loses the libel case at the High Court in February, he could potentially face a hefty legal bill on top of hundreds of thousands in damages paid to Mr Swann.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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