Van Morrison takes legal action against Department of Health and Minister for Northern Ireland over Covid article | Van Morrison
Van Morrison has taken legal action against the Northern Ireland Department of Health and its Minister Robin Swann for an opinion piece written for Rolling Stone magazine.
In September 2020, Morrison released three anti-lockdown songs, with lyrics that accused scientists of “making up twisted facts”.
“The new normal is not normal,” he sang. “We were born to be free.”
In response, Swann wrote for the US magazine describing Morrison’s songs as a “defamation” of those involved in the public health response to the virus, and highlighting the damage the musician could do to public messages around Covid-19. in Northern Ireland.
In the piece, Swann expresses “a real sense of disappointment” towards Morrison, whom he recognizes as a “musical legend”.
“If you see this all as one big conspiracy, then you’re less likely to follow vital public health advice that protects you and others,” Swann wrote.
“His words will bring great comfort to conspiracy theorists – the tinfoil hat brigade who crusade against masks and vaccines and think this is all one huge global plot to suppress freedoms.”
Swann called Morrison’s actions “bizarre and irresponsible” and said: “I just hope nobody takes him seriously. He’s not a guru or a teacher.
Morrison’s lawyers, John J Rice and Co, confirmed he was taking legal action against the Department of Health and Swann, but declined to say on what grounds.
Northern Ireland’s Department of Health told the BBC it would not comment on ongoing legal issues.
Morrison’s action against Swann follows the Ulster Unionist Party minister bringing proceedings against Morrison in November 2021.
In June, four Morrison concerts at the Europa Hotel in Belfast were canceled at the last minute due to Northern Ireland’s ‘blanket ban’ on live music at licensed venues as part of its coronavirus restrictions.
During a dinner there, Morrison and DUP MP Ian Paisley chanted that Swann was “very dangerous”.
Paisley said after the event, “I definitely don’t believe Robin is dangerous. I think the parody and sarcasm of this comment is obvious. There is a balance in all of these matters and sometimes we get it right and sometimes we get it wrong. We are all entitled to our own opinion on how the lockdown has been handled. »
Swann’s lawsuit against Morrison also references two other incidents: an interview in which Morrison allegedly called Swann a “fraud” and a video in which he repeated the “dangerous” accusation.
Morrison’s law firm responded: ‘Mr Morrison asserts in this defense that the words he used related to a matter of public interest and constituted fair comment.’
In January 2021, Morrison said he intended to ask the Belfast High Court to review the policy banning live music.
“We will seek leave for judicial review to challenge the blanket ban on live music on licensed premises in Northern Ireland,” his lawyer, Joe Rice said at the time. “We are not aware of any credible scientific or medical evidence to justify this particular blanket ban…and we will challenge this in the High Court.”
Last August, however, Morrison dropped out of the challenge.