Conrad Black dismisses convictions, likens U.S. to North Korea
Published Tuesday, October 23, 2012 12:50PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 23, 2012 2:32PM EDT
A feisty Conrad Black launched an attack on his naysayers in a testy interview with British TV Tuesday, comparing the United States to North Korea and saying his criminal convictions do not "have any validity."
In the U.K. for the British launch of his latest memoir, A Matter of Principle, Black took offence to questions about his recent convictions – and subsequent jail time – for fraud and obstruction of justice relating to Hollinger Inc. A Matter of Principle examines first-hand the former media baron’s legal travails over the past decade, which eventually resulted in a 42-month prison sentence.
After being released last spring from a Florida jail, Black returned to Canada.
During the interview on Sky News on Tuesday, host Adam Boulton called Black a "convicted fraudster."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. So are lots of people in Paraguay and in other unserious jurisdictions," Black replied.
"You're saying the United States is like Paraguay?," asked Boulton.
"In this matter, it's worse; it's like North Korea," Black replied.
He then added: "I do not accept that these charges in this manner have any validity and they certainly would not have occurred in this country. In this country, there would have been no prosecution and no conviction."
Boulton asked Black whether he ever intended, as the Lord Black of Crossharbour, to claim his seat in the House of Lords.
"Presumably, but I haven't decided yet," Black replied, at which point Boulton asked whether he thought his criminal convictions disqualified him from doing so.
"Of course not. I feel, in fact, frankly ennobled by it," Black said, adding that he had spent nine years fighting numerous "outrageous" charges, and was proud that all but two were eventually withdrawn.
Wearing a dark suit and blue tie, Black took exception when Boulton suggested that prior to his arrest he had been living beyond his means -- as a millionaire who “wanted to have a billionaire lifestyle." He asked the interviewer his name, then told him he couldn't have afforded to spend $30 million on "rapacious" American lawyers if he had been living beyond his means.
He also lashed out when Boulton asked him where he intended to live, saying he had been deported from the U.S. and only had a one-year visa to stay in Canada, his birth country.
"Stop being a jackass, you're just being abrasive," Black retorted, before explaining that he had left the U.S. voluntarily, had a renewable visa to Canada and planned to re-apply for the Canadian citizenship, which he had denounced in 2001 in order to accept his peerage as a British lord.
Black also said he is a "passport-carrying EU citizen."
"I'm not a refugee struggling desperately from place-to-place looking for some place to lay my head. I'm all right, I'm doing fine," Black said.
At one point during the interview, Black asked Boulton to hold up the book so viewers could actually see it, saying the point of his visit was to sell books, not to "enjoy your somewhat-predictable questions."
Black also had a prickly interview on the BBC, in which he called the host a fool and talked about the challenge of "being able to endure a discussion like this without getting up and smashing your face in."
At one point Jeremy Paxman, host of BBC Two's Newsnight, referred to Black as a convicted criminal.
Black shot back that Paxman was a "priggish, gullible, British fool."
Black is also set to appear on the BBC comedy show "Have I Got News for You," later this week -- a program that often pokes fun at its guests.
Black told Boulton he can handle himself when it comes to trading barbs and isn't worried about the appearance.