Appeals Court Rules Black May Sue for Libel in Ontario

By: E&P Staff

The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled Aug. 13 that Conrad Black’s libel suits against former Hollinger International officials may proceed.

The three-judge panel agreed with Black’s argument, ruling that he is entitled to bring the suits “before the community in which his reputation has been damaged.”

The former Hollinger directors collaborated with former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Richard Breeden on a 2004 report that said Black ran a “corporate kleptocracy” while serving as the company’s CEO. The report led to U.S. indictments of the press baron the next year.

Reporting on the provincial appeals court’s ruling, Financial Post Chief Business Correspondent Theresa Tedesco wrote that the judges “declared that although Lord Black is no longer a Canadian citizen, the authors of the so-called Breeden report were ‘sophisticated businessmen’ who ‘targeted the Canadian media and who reasonably foresaw the possibility that their conduct in posting the statements on the Internet would cause damage to Black’s reputation in Ontario.'”

Black was released on bail in July after serving 28 months of his six-and-a-half-year sentence for mail and wire fraud and obstruction of justice. His release resulted a U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding application of a law used to convict him. His case was returned to a lower court for review.

The defendants in Ontario appealed after failing to have Black’s lawsuits dismissed last year. They argued in May that Black had little connection to the province since renouncing his Canadian citizenship in order to be made a British lord. Black maintained that he remained well know and that content of the Breeden Report was wide circulated in Canada.

Tedesco quotes from one of Black’s appeals court documents: “It is important to the respondent that his reputation be vindicated in Ontario, where he is well known, maintains a residence and has substantial assets.”

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