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Northern Ireland’s health minister is suing Van Morrison over Covid-19 criticism

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Northern Island’s health minister has sued Van Morrison, who has mentioned the minister’s dealing with of Covid-19 restrictions was “very dangerous.”

Paul Tweed, the lawyer for the health minister, Robin Swann, confirmed on Monday {that a} lawsuit had been filed.

“Legal proceedings are now at an advanced stage, with an anticipated hearing date early in 2022,” Mr. Tweed mentioned in an electronic mail, including that he couldn’t remark “any further at this stage.” The Belfast Telegraph reported the lawsuit on Sunday.

Joe Rice, a lawyer for Mr. Morrison, didn’t instantly reply to a request for touch upon Monday. He advised The Associated Press that Mr. Morrison would contest the declare, arguing “that the words used by him related to a matter of public interest and constituted fair comment.”

In June, Mr. Morrison denounced Mr. Swann from the stage on the Europa Hotel in Belfast after several other concerts were canceled due to virus restrictions.

Mr. Morrison, 76, who was born in Belfast and was knighted in 2016, has dismissed the coronavirus pandemic — the loss of life toll for which surpassed 5 million individuals final week — as media hype and has criticized Covid-19 restrictions although his music.

In the autumn of 2020, as one other wave of the pandemic raged, Mr. Morrison launched three protest songs that criticized the measures that Northern Ireland’s authorities had taken to gradual the unfold of the virus. One music, “No More Lockdown,” claimed that scientists have been “making up crooked facts” concerning the virus.

At the time, Mr. Swann referred to as the songs “dangerous” in an interview with BBC Radio Ulster.

“I don’t know where he gets his facts,” Mr. Swann mentioned of the songs. “I know where the emotions are on this, but I will say that sort of messaging is dangerous.”

The songs additionally prompted Mr. Swann to put in writing an opinion article for Rolling Stone through which he mentioned that Mr. Morrison’s “words will give great comfort to the conspiracy theorists.”

In August, Mr. Morrison dropped a authorized problem towards a “blanket ban” on reside music in licensed venues in Northern Island, based on the BBC. As Northern Ireland eased Covid-19 restrictions, reside music was allowed to renew.

Mr. Morrison welcomed the information on the time but in addition mentioned he was dissatisfied that he needed to cancel some live shows in Belfast over the summer time.

In May, Mr. Morrison, who is identified for hits like “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Moondance,” launched a double album, “Latest Record Project, Vol. 1.” The album, together with the songs “Why Are You on Facebook?” and “They Control the Media,” has been assailed by critics who’ve accused Mr. Morrison of antisemitism and embracing conspiracy theories.