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Robin Swann and Van Morrisson libel showdown is delayed


Sir Van Morrison

Sir Van Morrison

Sir Van Morrison

The high court libel showdown between music legend Van Morrison and health minister Robin Swann has been delayed until later this year.

Mr Swann is suing Sir Van after the singer-songwriter repeatedly called him “dangerous” in a series of high-profile outbursts last year.

The UUP man hired hot-shot libel lawyer Paul Tweed, who has represented the likes of Harrison Ford, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez and Arlene Foster, to represent him in the case which was due to start this month.

However, Sunday Life understands the highly-anticipated court battle will be reviewed at the high court this week and is likely to be adjourned for several months.

In November 2021 this newspaper exclusively revealed Mr Swann had instructed lawyers to sue Van Morrison for defamation over his public outbursts earlier in the year.

A writ was served on 76-year-old ‘Van the Man’ in June last year with a statement of claim detailing the case against him issued by Mr Swann’s lawyers in September.

Sir Van’s legal team later sent a statement of their defence against the claims in October.

Speaking at the time Mr Swann’s solicitor Paul Tweed said: “Proceedings have been issued and are ongoing against Van Morrison.”

A spokesman for Mr Swann added he was unable to comment on the matter due to the ongoing proceedings.

His legal team alleges Sir Van’s comments amount to accusations he misused his office and endangered the public.

They say Morrison’s public accusations harmed his reputation by implying he was unfit for office and suggested he had misrepresented the facts about the pandemic.

The case centres around three incidents in which the Ulster Unionist MLA’s lawyers say he was defamed by the east Belfast singer-songwriter.

First, Sir Van spoke about the health minister during a gig at Belfast’s Europa Hotel in June 2021 after several of his upcoming gigs were cancelled because of lockdown.

The singer attempted to lead the audience in chants of “Robin Swann is very dangerous” and called Ian Paisley Jnr to join him on stage.

The second alleged instance of defamation occurred in the days following the Europa Hotel gig when Sir Van was approached by Sunday Life about his comments.

Speaking to our reporter he said: “No, no I don’t regret it (saying Mr Swann was dangerous). Of course he’s dangerous.

“He’s a fraud, I believe he’s a fraud. Why should I regret it?

“He called me dangerous and I’m calling him dangerous.”

Van’s comments were a reference to an interview Mr Swann gave to Rolling Stone magazine in which he criticised comments by the lockdown opponent.

The third alleged defamation centres around content uploaded to Sir Van’s YouTube channel in which he repeats his claim that Mr Swann is “dangerous”.

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