Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Count of Monte Cristo the sequel?

Conrad Black in Florida: ‘I still expect justice to prevail’

Many of Lord Black's tormenters should be afraid.

The focus of the libel suit is the now discredited August 2004 Report of Investigation by the Special Committee of the Board of Directors of Hollinger International. In that report, spearheaded by Mr. Breeden, a former head of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission hired as a special advisor to Hollinger, the company is described as a "corporate kleptocracy." Those words alone, while only used once in the report, are sensational and powerful enough to carry a libel suit in most circumstances if found to be unsubstantiated.

Equally damaging language dominates the summary of the report, which claimed that $500-million had been swept out of Hollinger. Easily found through Google today, the first 20 pages make for stunning over-the-top reading. "Hollinger wasn't a company where isolated improper and abusive acts took place. Rather, Hollinger was a company where abusive practices were inextricably linked to every major development or action." It claimed that "ethical corruption was a defining characteristic of the leadership team."

Along with Mr. Breeden, the libel suit names a group of Hollinger executives who had taken over the company after Lord Black had left. They include Gordon Paris, James R. Thompson, Graham L. Savage, Raymond Seitz and

Henry Kissinger. To fight the libel case, the defendants want the case moved out of Ontario, where libel laws work in favour of the plaintiff by forcing the defendants to prove the veracity of their statements. Mr. Breeden and the plaintiffs want the case moved to New York or Illinois, where the opposite burden prevails and the law favours defendants.

A lower court last year threw out the Breeden attempt to shift venues, saying the case should be heard in Ontario. The judge also awarded Lord Black $90,000 in expenses, perhaps an omen of things to come. The Ontario Court of Appeal heard an appeal of the jurisdiction issue this past May, and is expected to issue a decision sometime over the next three months


Anonymous said...

Good. Hope Black wins and wins big. He deserves recompense after being dragged through the mud and seeing his life destroyed by rats and weasels.

been around the block said...

The good news, is, Anonymous, that Conrad Black's life hasn't been destroyed. He's one tough cookie, with lots of smarts, and as Adam Daifallah has pointed out, in an article in the National Post, has managed to maintain a positive attitude despite even his best friends' bleak outlook on his ever being vindicated.

Lord Black is also a man of faith (a convert from Anglicanism to the Roman Catholic Church), who has used this valley as a well. I love that he was giving classes in history and politics to his fellow inmates! And made time to tutor high school-leaving candidates.

He has pointed out that since going to jail his social life hasn't been affected all that much:

"My circle hasn't so much changed as expanded. The people I mainly see here are often not unlike people I might know outside.

"I have also met many interesting people from a variety of backgrounds that were somewhat unfamiliar to me, but are no less interesting for that, and have been quite informative in some ways."

I Support Lord Black