Singer-songwriter Sir Van Morrison has been sued by Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Robin Swann for defamation over comments he made in a video posted to social media. The lawsuit was filed after the singer called the health minister “very dangerous” for the enforcement of pandemic-related measures.
In September, Swann’s legal team filed a lawsuit against Morrison, claiming the singer’s remarks were defamatory to the health minister.
“Proceedings have been issued and are ongoing against Van Morrison. We are aiming for a trial in February,” Swann’s lawyer, Paul Tweed, told local media on Sunday.
Tweed is a high-profile libel attorney who has represented the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Justin Timberlake.
The minister and singer’s beef began after Morrison’s gig in Belfast was canceled as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. Morrison was still able to perform and used the opportunity to take shots at the minister.
“Robin Swann has all the power. So I say Robin Swann is very dangerous,” Morison told the audience. He also allegedly tried to get the crowd to chant “Robin Swann is very dangerous.”
Morrison doubled down on the remarks, posting a YouTube video saying, “No, I don’t regret it. Of course he’s dangerous.” He added that the health minister was a “fraud.”
Morrison’s lawyer said that his client “regretted” that the minister had filed the lawsuit, and was “disappointed by the publicity that surrounds the issue of the proceedings also.”
The lawyer added that Morrison had “consistently campaigned” for the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions because they were “unlawful insofar as they imposed a blanket ban on the ability of all musicians to perform live music, thereby endangering their livelihoods.”
Last year, Swann blasted Morrison for releasing anti-lockdown songs, including “No More Lockdown,” “Born to be Free,” and “As I Walked Out.”
A hearing is likely expected in early 2022.