Van Morrison being sued by Health Minister after Covid criticism

Van Morrison being sued by Health Minister after Covid criticism

VAN MORRISON is being sued by Northern Ireland's Health Minister over comments relating to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

In June, the singer branded Robin Swann "very dangerous" in a chant at a function at Belfast's Europa Hotel.

Mr Swann's solicitor, Paul Tweed, said proceedings are at an "advanced stage" with a hearing expected early next year.

In response, Mr Morrison's solicitor said the singer "regrets that Mr Swann considered it necessary to issue proceedings".

Lockdown opposition

The June event was held after a gig by the musician was cancelled due to pandemic restrictions.

At one point, Mr Morrison was joined on stage for the chant by Ian Paisley Jr, who later defended his actions as "parody, comedy, banter and sarcasm".

Mr Morrison is a vocal critic of Covid restrictions and released three protest songs addressing the issue.

He also launched a legal challenge against the blanket ban on live music, which he subsequently dropped when restrictions were eased.


Following the legal action, Mr Morrison's solicitors JJ Rice said they had served a defence on behalf of the singer.

"Mr Morrison regrets that Mr Swann considered it necessary to issue proceedings," said Joe Rice.

"He is disappointed by the publicity that surrounds the issue of the proceedings also.

Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann (Image: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

"Mr Morrison has consistently campaigned for the relaxation of the Coronavirus Regulations, believing them to be unlawful insofar as they imposed a blanket ban on the ability of all musicians to perform life music, thereby endangering their livelihoods.

"Such was his strength of feeling on the matter that he instructed this firm in June 2021 to issue a High Court challenge to the legality of those Regulations, arguing that they were unlawful.

"It was only after he brought those proceedings that the Regulations were relaxed by the Assembly, thereby preventing the need for a determination of the issue by the High Court.

'Fair comment'

"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 with that Defence that the words used by him related to a matter of public interest and constituted fair comment."

Mr Swann's legal proceedings cite two subsequent incidents to the Europa Hotel incident.

In the first, he reportedly told a reporter that the Ulster Unionist Party politician was a "fraud", while the second relates to a YouTube video posted by Mr Morrison in which he calls Mr Swann "dangerous".