Van Morrison suing NI Health Department and minister Robin Swann over magazine op-ed

Van Morrison suing NI Health Department and minister Robin Swann over magazine op-ed

VAN MORRISON is taking legal action against Northern Ireland's Department of Health and its minister Robin Swann over an opinion piece which was published in Rolling Stone magazine in the first year of the pandemic.

In the article, dated from September 2020, Mr Swann criticised Morrison's stance on Covid restrictions, saying his stance went further than "disappointment" and that some of what he was saying was "dangerous".

A spokesperson for Morrison confirmed the musician had issued legal proceedings, while the Health Department said it would not comment on active legal matters.

In a statement to BBC News NI, Sir Van's spokesperson said:

"We confirm that legal proceedings have been issued against Mr Robin Swann MLA and the Department of Health as co-publishers of an op-ed in Rolling Stone."

In the magazine article, Mr Swann said Sir Van could potentially damage public health messaging around Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.

Swann wrote that people in Northern Ireland were very proud of Morrison’s musical legacy, so that his stance was a source of “a real feeling of disappointment”.

“However it goes further than disappointment. Some of what he is saying is actually dangerous.

“It could encourage people to not to take Coronavirus seriously. If you see it all as a big conspiracy, then you are less likely to follow the vital public health advice that keeps you and others safe.”

Swann also said that Morrison's words would give “great comfort to the conspiracy theorists, the tin foil hat brigade who crusade against masks and vaccines and think this is all a huge global plot to remove freedoms.”

Sir Van had released songs in 2020 in which the lyrics protested against coronavirus lockdowns.

He claimed scientists were "making up crooked facts" to justify measures that" enslave the population.