Coronavirus: Sir Van Morrison takes legal action against Robin Swann

By Conor Spackman
BBC Spotlight

  • Published
Sir Van Morrison
Image caption,
A spokesperson for Sir Van Morrison confirmed legal proceedings had begun

Sir Van Morrison is taking legal action against Northern Ireland's Department of Health and its minister Robin Swann over an opinion piece in Rolling Stone magazine.

In the op-ed article, first published in September 2020, Mr Swann criticised Sir Van's stance on Covid restrictions.

A spokesperson for Sir Van confirmed the musician had issued legal proceedings.

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.

He described the songs Sir Van had written on the issue as "dangerous".

Mr Swann wrote: "We in Northern Ireland are very proud of the fact that one of the greatest music legends of the past 50 years comes from our part of the world.

"So there's a real feeling of disappointment - we expected better from him.

"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."

Image source, Pacemaker
Image caption,
Robin Swann has been Northern Ireland's health minister since January 2020

Mr Swann said the songs were a "smear" on those involved in the public health response to the virus.

In the songs, released in 2020, Sir Van protested against coronavirus lockdowns.

In the lyrics, he claimed scientists were "making up crooked facts" to justify measures that "enslave" the population.

Last year, it emerged that Mr Swann was taking legal action against Sir Van, after the singer called Mr Swann "very dangerous" during a dinner at the Europa Hotel in Belfast in June 2021.

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