AceShowbiz - Van Morrison is dragged to court by a Northern Ireland official. The singer/songwriter is sued by Northern Ireland's Health Minister Robin Swann after labeling him "very dangerous" for his handling of coronavirus restrictions.
Swann has hired hot-shot libel lawyer Paul Tweed, who has represented the likes of Harrison Ford, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez and Arlene Foster]. Per Sunday Life, the lawyer said, "Proceedings have been issued and are ongoing against Van Morrison. We are aiming for a trial in February."
Morrison is sued for defamation after he suggested that Swann was unfit for his position and mishandled guidance during the pandemic. The lawsuit is regarding three instances, in which the 76-year-old singer called Swann "very dangerous" for his handling of coronavirus restrictions.
Morrison, who has released several songs criticizing lockdowns, denounced the health minister after several of his concerts were canceled because of virus restrictions. The first instance took place at Belfast's Europa Hotel in June when the 76-year-old singer attempted to get his fans to chant "Robin Swann is very dangerous" and called Ian Paisley, the former First Minister of Northern Ireland, to join him stage. Paisley later called Swann to apologize for his act and said he did not believe that the health minister is dangerous.
Days later at the Europa Hotel, Morrison doubled down on his comments that Swann is "dangerous" when approached by Sunday Life. "No, no I don't regret it," he said, before reiterating, "Of course he's dangerous." He added, "He's a fraud, I believe he's a fraud. Why should I regret it? He called me dangerous and I'm calling him dangerous."
Shortly after his interview with the newspaper, Morrison posted a YouTube video in June titled "For Clarity" to explain why he thought Swann was "dangerous." In it, he incorrectly referred to the health minister as "Robert Swann" and said Swann "decided he wanted to get mixed up in my business."
In the video, Morrison also said he contacted Swann roughly a year ago requesting "scientific evidence" to corroborate why live music was banned during the pandemic, but said he has yet to receive a response. Morrison said he would not "lie down and accept" being unable to do his job.
Responding to the lawsuit, Morrison's lawyer Joe Rice said the "Brown Eyed Girl" crooner would contest the claim. He said Morrison will argue "that the words used by him related to a matter of public interest and constituted fair comment."