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Northern Ireland health minister to sue Van Morrison over Covid remarks | Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s health minister is suing Van Morrison after the singer accused him of being “very dangerous” over his dealing with of Covid restrictions.

Robin Swann’s authorized motion relates to a well-publicised look by the musician on the Europa lodge in Belfast in June. Morrison criticised the Ulster Unionist get together minister after the last-minute cancellation of his present.

Video of the incident went viral after Morrison known as the Democratic Unionist MP Ian Paisley on to the stage to be a part of him in chants. Paisley has since described it as “parody” and mentioned he didn’t imagine Swann was harmful.

Four gigs scheduled by Morrison, together with one on the Europa lodge, had been cancelled on the eleventh hour as reside music was nonetheless not permitted underneath Covid restrictions. The administration of the lodge blamed confusion by Stormont ministers for the late discover, believing that they had been given the inexperienced gentle to proceed.

A couple of weeks later, Morrison mentioned he would problem the Northern Irish authorities in courtroom over its “blanket ban” on reside music in licensed venues.

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According to studies, Swann started defamation proceedings earlier this yr that additionally cite two subsequent incidents when the singer elaborated on his views on Swann.

In the primary, he was requested by a Sunday Life newspaper reporter about his preliminary feedback on Swann. Morrison was reported to have described the minister as a “fraud”. The second relates to content material Morrison uploaded to YouTube by which he addressed the Europa lodge controversy. In that video, he once more criticises the minister and calls him “dangerous”, albeit referring to him incorrectly as “Robert Swann”.

Swann has employed the libel lawyer Paul Tweed, who has represented well-known figures together with Harrison Ford, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez and Arlene Foster. He just lately received a settlement for the previous Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams over a libel motion in opposition to the Sunday World newspaper in Ireland.

Proceedings had been “at an advanced stage with a hearing expected to be listed in early 2022”, Tweed mentioned.

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Swann’s motion emerged after it was disclosed in the Sunday Life on Sunday. It is known Swann’s authorized staff despatched a writ to the singer in June and adopted that up with an in depth assertion of declare in September. Morrison’s legal professionals are understood to have responded to the declare final month.

The Europa lodge incident unfolded when Morrison complained Swann had “all the power” over the entertainer’s capability to carry out gigs. He pulled up Paisley to be a part of him in chants concerning the health minister.

Swann mentioned Paisley subsequently apologised for the incident and it’s understood the minister will not be taking authorized motion in opposition to the North Antrim MP.

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The Belfast-born singer has been an ardent critic of coronavirus restrictions, significantly people who prevented reside music performances. He recorded plenty of anti-lockdown songs final yr that he mentioned had been aimed on the UK authorities. The lyrics included claims that scientists had been “making up crooked facts” to justify restrictions that “enslave” the inhabitants.

Robin Swann (left) and Sir Van Morrison.
Robin Swann (left) and Sir Van Morrison. Photograph: PA

Swann subsequently responded to these songs in a bit written for Rolling Stone journal. In that op-ed, the health minister described the singer’s claims as “bizarre and irresponsible”. He mentioned a few of what he was claiming was “actually dangerous” and would supply “great comfort to the conspiracy theorists”.

Morrison’s legal professionals have been approached for remark.

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