Black gradually divested himself of traditional Argus investments and in 1985 began buying quality newspapers, including the London Daily Telegraph, the Jerusalem Post, The Chicago Sun Times and the Sydney Morning Herald. In 1992 he engineered a takeover of the Southam chain of Canadian newspapers (see SOUTHAM INC).
Conrad Black's autobiography, A Life in Progress was published the following year.
Black launched the National Post in 1997 as a Toronto flagship for his chain, designed to compete with The Globe & Mail. In 1999 the British government offered to make Black a baron, but Canadian Prime Minister Jean CHRÉTIEN intervened and blocked Black's appointment citing the Nickle Resolution of 1919, which directed that the practice of bestowing titles of honour by foreign governments on Canadians be discontinued. Black gave up his Canadian citizenship to accept the title and in 2001 was sworn into the House of Lords as Lord Black of Crossharbour. Crossharbour is the name of a London neighbourhood located near the building that houses The London Daily Telegraph.
Black sold his Canadian newspaper chain to CanWest Media for $3.2 billion and as part of the deal was paid $74 million not to compete with CanWest Global. Shortly afterwards, directors at Hollinger International claimed that Black and Radler were paying themselves unauthorized salaries. There were further claims that Black diverted hundreds of millions of dollars in company monies to himself through a series of self dealing transactions.
Black was fired as Hollinger Chairman in 2004 and shortly after, lost control of his press empire. Concurrent with his failing business dealings, he managed to publish an ambitious biography of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In 2005 his long-time business partner David Radler agreed to co-operate with US investigators in a plea bargain. Black was charged with fraud and obstruction of justice, and largely because of Radler's testimony against him, was convicted in 2007 and sentenced by a Chicago district court judge to 78 months in prison for defrauding shareholders and obstructing justice.
Black appealed his conviction to the US Supreme Court on the grounds that the trial judge gave improper instructions to the jury with respect to the correct interpretation of certain aspects of the fraud charges. A US Supreme Court decision in June 2010 subsequently set aside the fraud conviction and in July Black was granted bail. In October a three-member Appellate panel overturned two of Black's three criminal fraud convictions while upholding the obstruction of justice guilty verdict. Black was remanded to the US District Court in Chicago for re-sentencing on the obstruction conviction as well as on the remaining fraud conviction. At the re-sentencing hearing in June 2011 the 2007 sentence of 78 months was replaced by a 42 month sentence, which left Black with a possible 13 additional months to serve. Black began his incarceration, to be followed by two years of supervised release, in September 2011 and was eventually released from the Federal Correctional Institution Miami in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida in April 2012. Having given up his Canadian citizenship to accept a peerage in the British House of Lords in 2001, Black was not automatically eligible for repatriation to Canada at the completion of his sentence but was granted a one-year temporary resident permit valid from May 2012 to May 2013, allowing him to return to his home in Toronto.
Black's biography of US president Richard Nixon, The Invincible Quest, was published to critical acclaim in the same year as his conviction. Publication of his latest memoir is on hold until the US Supreme Court renders a judgment on his appeal.
Conrad Black was awarded the Order of Canada in 1990 for "his diverse achievements in the realms of commerce, literature and the arts." He was married twice, first in 1978 to Shirley Gail Walters with whom he had three children, and in 1992 to journalist Babrara AMIEL.
Author ALAN HUSTAK
Links to Other Sites
The rise and fall of a media baron
This CBC site chronicles the rise and fall of Conrad Black, the former Canadian media baron.
See National Post articles written by former press baron Conrad Black.
Conrad Black: My prison education
Conrad Black writes about his experience in a US prison. From the National Post
Conrad Black's legal legacy remains limited, experts say
View a CTV News story about Conrad Black's return to Canada after his incarceration in the US and the legal challenges that continue to dodge him.