Van Morrison allowed to appeal decision that legal cases with Robin Swann be heard without jury

Northern Ireland health minister issued defamation proceedings against musician over chant during Covid-19

Van Morrison was on Monday granted leave to appeal a decision that his legal battle with Northern Ireland health minister Robin Swann be heard without a jury.

Last month counsel for the musician confirmed he would seek leave to appeal against the decision reached in actions related to the handling of Covid-19 restrictions in Northern Ireland.

Mr Swann issued defamation proceedings after Morrison chanted that he was “very dangerous” on stage during a dinner at Belfast’s Europa Hotel in June 2021. It came after gigs by the singer-songwriter at the venue were cancelled due to a ban on live music imposed as part of coronavirus restrictions.

In a separate action, Morrison is suing Mr Swann and the Department of Health over an opinion piece he wrote for Rolling Stone magazine. The article, published after the performer released anti-lockdown songs, expressed disappointment and described the songs as a “smear” on those involved in the public health response to the pandemic.


During a hearing at the High Court in June this year, lawyers on both sides set out opposing arguments on how the two related actions should proceed. Mr Swann’s legal team sought trial by a judge sitting alone, while Morrison’s representatives pressed for the claims to be determined by a jury.

Following deliberation, Mr Justice McAlinden held that both actions should be heard by a judge alone. At the Court of Appeal von Monday, Lady Chief Justice Dame Siobhan Keegan KC granted leave to appeal and extension of time. The case will be reviewed next month.