A Matter of Principle
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—Conrad Black, in his statement to the court, June 24, 2011
In 1993, Conrad Black was the proprietor of London's Daily Telegraph and the head of one of the world's largest newspaper groups. He completed a memoir in 1992, A Life in Progress, and "great prospects beckoned." In 2004, he was fired as chairman of Hollinger International after he and his associates were accused of fraud. Here, for the first time, Black describes his indictment, four-month trial in Chicago, partial conviction, imprisonment, and largely successful appeal.
In this unflinchingly revealing and superbly written memoir, Black writes without reserve about the prosecutors who mounted a campaign to destroy him and the journalists who presumed he was guilty. Fascinating people fill these pages, from prime ministers and presidents to the social, legal, and media elite, among them: Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, George W. Bush, Jean Chrétien, Rupert Murdoch, Izzy Asper, Richard Perle, Norman Podhoretz, Eddie Greenspan, Alan Dershowitz, and Henry Kissinger.
Woven throughout are Black's views on big themes: politics, corporate governance, and the U.S. justice system. He is candid about highly personal subjects, including his friendships - with those who have supported and those who have betrayed him - his Roman Catholic faith, and his marriage to Barbara Amiel. And he writes about his complex relations with Canada, Great Britain, and the United States, and in particular the blow he has suffered at the hands of that nation.
In this extraordinary book, Black maintains his innocence and recounts what he describes as "the fight of and for my life." A Matter of Principle is a riveting memoir and a scathing account of a flawed justice system.
overly successful, both John Warden and Ben Stapleton are excellent lawyers and delightful gentlemen. * Brian Stewart, the senior network news commentator of CBC Television for many years, could have been mentioned on almost any page of this book, as we have been close friends since we fetched up together in the same high school in 1960, both at tangled academic moments. We often travelled together, in Canada, the U.S., and many parts of Europe and Africa, on university holidays and after. No
sideshow. There were opéra bouffe diversions even in these fraught days. Peter White and I were sitting in my office on the afternoon of May 24 when one of the loyal executive assistants informed us that, since one of the directors had phoned in to the meeting then underway in the boardroom between the independent directors and the Ravelston receiver, they could arrange for us to hear the meeting on Peter’s speaker phone. We did so. This was their first meeting with the receiver. I had the
the (female) correctional officers. Another early acquaintance, who had apparently damaged his mind with his drug habit, answered almost any conversational gambit either by describing his subterranean marijuana-growing facility or by holding forth on the anthropological insights of the animated cartoon television series The Simpsons. This inmate had a wisp of a goatee, like Ho Chi Minh, and had such large-bore ear piercings, he occasionally suspended padlocks from each ear, creating a very
justice, which in practice, as prosecutors win an implausible (and almost totalitarian) 95 per cent of their cases, is less a due process than a demonstration of the force of gravity by the operation of a trapdoor when an accused is frog-marched onto it. I had thought that the U.S. custodial system discouraged and despised the squealer, the snitch. But with the suffocating pervasiveness of the plea bargain, the prisons are full of people who have borne false witness, and of their victims, and of
The related-party transactions, which were necessary as we consolidated assets in one company and then dismantled the secondary assets of the company when we delivered at the height of the economic boom, had been skilfully handled by Richard Perle and Dennis Block and never became a source of controversy; both Hollingers greatly profited. But they were relatively sloppily handled by Radler with only Burt and Thompson as overseers. Gordon Paris has a perfectly nondescript and entirely forgettable