Lawsuit against four Northern Ireland politicians over Covid-19 regulations thrown out by High Court

Robin Swann, Mike Nesbitt, Naomi Long and Jim Shannon were all sued

A £100m lawsuit against four high-profile politicians over the implementation of Coronavirus regulations in Northern Ireland is to be struck out, the High Court has ruled.

Former Stormont Ministers Robin Swann and Naomi Long were sued along with DUP MP Jim Shannon and Ulster Unionist MLA Mike Nesbitt amid allegations they voted for Covid-19 measures which “destroyed 67 million lives”.

But a judge identified no reasonable cause of action in the claim describing it as “misconceived and deluded”.

The case was taken by personal litigants Jody and Diana Nesbitt.

Master Bell said: “The court cannot allow public representatives to be harassed by hopeless litigation such as this.

“It simply takes their focus away from their important duties in serving the public.”

Mr and Mrs Nesbitt commenced civil proceedings seeking £100m in damages against the four political representatives, claiming they made decisions during the pandemic without due care or attention to the facts.

Measures around lockdowns, vaccination, masks and sanitation were passed in Northern Ireland without a proper scientific basis, it was contended.

In a wide-ranging case, the couple claimed breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy, misfeasance in office and a series of other causes of action.

Losses they alleged due to the introduction of the Coronavirus Regulations included finance approved to build a hotel complex in Newry valued at £20m and multi-million pound properties at other locations in Northern Ireland.

The future value of the projects which would have been their children’s inheritance was estimated at more than £100m.

Lawyers representing Mr Swann, the former Ulster Unionist Health Minister, and Mrs Long the Alliance leader who served as Justice Minister, sought to have the action against them struck out, arguing that it was baseless, scandalous and an abuse of process.

Granting their joint application, Master Bell described the statement of claim as “a mixture of political hyperbole, opinions and disputations in respect of the medical and scientific understanding about Covid upon which the applicants took action during the pandemic”.

With legal terminology said to have been used without a proper understanding, the case was held to be “frivolous and vexatious”.

Based on the same legal defects, a further decision was taken to strike out the proceedings against Mike Nesbitt and Mr Shannon as well.

Awarding legal costs to the politicians, Master Bell added: “It would be appalling if the taxpayers of Northern Ireland were liable for the costs of the former ministers in defending an action which was so utterly misconceived and deluded.”

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