UK Politics

Ex-Telegraph owner Black hints at return to Lords

Barbara Amiel and Conrad Black at home in Toronto, Canada 4 May 2012
Image caption Lord Black was released from prison in the US earlier this year

Former media mogul Conrad Black has indicated he plans to resume his seat in the House of Lords, despite being convicted of fraud by a US court.

He told BBC Two's Newsnight the charges against him had been "rubbish" and he had been "persecuted half to death".

Asked if he would return to Parliament, Lord Black replied: "Well, why not." There was no rule against those with convictions doing so, he added.

Lord Black was imprisoned for three years for defrauding investors.

The former proprietor of the Daily Telegraph and a number of other world newspapers was raised to the peerage as Baron Black of Crossharbour in 2001.

Having left the US after his release from jail earlier this year, he is due to appear on the BBC One comedy show Have I Got News for You this Friday.

'Almost completely vindicated'

During testy exchanges with Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman, he called the US justice system "ghastly", accusing his interviewer of being a "priggish, gullible, British fool" for taking it seriously.

Asked if he expected to retain his seat in the House of Lords, Lord Black said: "Well, why not?"

Lord Black added: "First of all there is not a prohibition on a convicted criminal sitting in that House [of Lords]."

He said: "Let me tell you something, I am proud of having gone through the terribly difficult process of being falsely charged, falsely convicted and ultimately almost completely vindicated without losing my mind, becoming irrational, ceasing to be a penitent and reasonable person and actually being able to endure a discussion like this without getting up and smashing your face in, which is what most people would do if they had been through what I had been."

Mr Paxman said: "Well, you go ahead."

"No, I don't believe in violence," Lord Black replied.

In 2007 the peer was convicted of defrauding Hollinger International shareholders of $6.1m (£3.8m), by paying himself a tax-free bonus from the sale of newspaper assets without the approval of the company's board.

He had been forced out of the company by shareholders in 2003.

After his conviction, Lord Black was sentenced to 78 months in prison. He was released two years later while he pursued a partially successful appeal, in which a judge cut his sentence down to 42 months, including the 29 months he had already served.

Lord Black reported to prison in September last year to complete the remainder of his sentence but was released after eight months on good behaviour.

More on this story