During a pre-show dinner event in Belfast in June 11, Morrison branded minister Robin Swann “very dangerous” in an anti-lockdown rant, in a response to Swann criticising him for his anti-lockdown stance in 2020, in which he said Morrison’s words “will give great comfort to the conspiracy theorists”.
As reported by the BBC, Swann’s lawyer Paul Tweed said legal proceedings are “at an advanced stage” and that it expects the case to go to court in early 2022.
In response, representatives for Morrison said the singer “regrets that Mr Swann considered it necessary to issue proceedings”.
The lawyers added that they were “disappointed by the publicity that surrounds the issue of the proceedings”.
Regarding a planned defence for the singer, they said: “Mr Morrison asserts within that defence that the words used by him related to a matter of public interest and constituted fair comment.”
It is also reported by the BBC that the court proceedings also include two other incidents in addition to the pre-dinner event in Glasgow, including a separate time that Morrison called Swann “dangerous” an alleged reference to Swann as a “fraud” from the singer.
Van Morrison has protested coronavirus restrictions on several anti-lockdown songs since the pandemic began, the latest of which featured Eric Clapton. He has also called socially distanced gigs “pseudo-science”, urging other musicians and promoters to “speak up”.
In January of this year, the singer announced that he was planning a legal challenge after Northern Ireland banned live performances in an attempt to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
The legal action was subsequently dropped in August when live music returned to the country after restrictions were dropped.