Van Morrison has instigated legal proceedings against Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann over an article the minister wrote for Rolling Stone magazine.

In an opinion piece published in September 2020, Swann criticised the Belfast singer's controversial stance on Covid restrictions, saying that aspects of his attitude were "dangerous".

Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann / Image: Getty

The piece went on to take issue with Morrison's efforts to hold concerts during the early part of the 2020 lockdown with Swann suggesting that the 76-year-old singer's approach could encourage people not to take Covid seriously.

In a statement issued to BBC News NI on Monday, Morrison’s spokesperson said: "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."

In response, the Department of Health in Northern Ireland said it would not be commenting on "active legal matters".

In the Rolling Stone article, Swann said that people in Northern Ireland were very proud of Morrison's musical legacy, which meant that his attitude to Covid restrictions was a source of "a real feeling of disappointment".

"However it goes further than disappointment. Some of what he is saying is actually dangerous," he added.

"It could encourage people to not to take Coronavirus seriously. 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."

Swann also said that the singer's words would give "great comfort to the conspiracy theorists, the tin foil hat brigade who crusade against masks and vaccines and think this is all a huge global plot to remove freedoms."

Morrison elaborated at length on his stance on Covid lockdowns on his most recent album, Latest Record Project 1.