Van Morrison is being sued for libel by Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann after the singer called the politician “dangerous” in a series of recent outbursts criticizing Swann over his policies related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sunday Life newspaper reports.
According to the paper, Swann has hired libel lawyer Paul Tweed, who has represented such high-profile clients as Harrison Ford, Justin Timberlake and Jennifer Lopez, and is preparing for a High Court showdown with Morrison this coming February, unless the case can be settled before that.
Swann’s lawyers claim that Van’s public comments were equivalent to accusing the minister of misusing his office and endangering the public, and maintain that the singer falsely suggested that Swann had misrepresented facts regarding the pandemic.
The lawsuit stems from three separate incidents where Morrison verbally attacked Swann. The first occurred at a June concert in Belfast where Morrison, angered that some of his upcoming concerts had been canceled because of the pandemic, attempted to lead the audience in a chant of “Robin Swann is very dangerous.”
The second incident occurred when a Sunday Life reporter asked Van to comment about whether he regretted his remarks about Swann at his Belfast show and Morrison responded, “No, no I don’t regret it…Of course he’s dangerous.”
The third instance cited was a pair of videos Van posted on his YouTube channel in which he explains why he feels Swann is dangerous, while also expressing disdain for the politician over a then-recent op-ed piece Swann wrote for Rolling Stone in which he criticized Van’s anti-lockdown views and his series of recent protest songs he’d released in which he expressed those views.
Starting last year, Morrison began releasing songs protesting U.K.-imposed regulations meant to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. Van believes the regulations are taking away people’s freedoms and destroying musicians’ livelihoods.
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.