Van Morrison has started legal action against the Northern Ireland Department of Health and its minister Robin Swann.
The action comes after Swann wrote an op-ed piece for Rolling Stone in September 2020, which slammed Morrison’s stance on lockdown and covid restrictions.
The piece said that Morrison’s anti-lockdown views could damage public health messaging in Northern Ireland and Swann added that the songs that the artist had written regarding covid were “dangerous”.
Morrison released a number of songs which further shared his opinion, including “No More Lockdown”, “Born to Be Free” and “As I Walked Out”.
“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,” wrote Swann in his op-ed.
“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.”
Morrison has now initiated legal proceedings, wrote BBC News NI on Monday (30 May).
“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,” confirmed a spokesperson for Morrison.
This comes after Swann himself started legal proceedings against Morrison last year after the singer called him “very dangerous” for his handling of coronavirus restrictions.
The Belfast-born singer vocally opposed restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, and released several songs criticizing lockdowns. He denounced Swann during a gathering at Belfast’s Europa Hotel after a Morrison concert was canceled at the last minute because of virus restrictions.
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The defamation suit related to three incidents in which Morrison criticised Swann, calling him “a fraud” and “very dangerous.”