Conrad Black, Author Settle Libel Suit

By: E&P Staff

There’s one less court case in former newspaper baron Conrad M. Black’s lawyer-filled life.

The attorney for Peter C. Newman said a settlement has been reached in the C$2.1 million (US$1.79 million) libel suit Black served last November on the author and former editor in chief of the Canadian newsweekly Maclean’s.

According to a press release from Newman’s attorney, Howard Winkler, the libel suit was “dismissed without cost.”

The settlement included a “statement of regret” from Newman for statements about Black and his wife Barbara Amiel Black published in his 2004 autobiography, “Here be Dragons: Telling Tales of People, Passion and Power.”

“Mr. Newman acknowledges that Lord Black is entitled to the presumption that he is innocent of any wrongdoing and apologizes for and retracts any contrary impression his words may have conveyed,” the statement reads in part.

In his libel suit filed in Ontario Superior Court, Black alleged the book “falsely and maliciously” says Black engaged “in a wide range of criminal acts spanning many years, including mail and wire fraud, interstate transportation of stolen property and money laundering.”

Newman, who now lives in England, was served with the lawsuit at a Toronto party celebrating the 100th anniversary of Maclean’s — a party the Blacks attended.

In the apology, Newman states that the material that offended Black came from the 2004 Hollinger International special committee report, which accuses Black and other top executives of running a “corporate kleptocracy” that “looted” the newspaper publishing company of some US$400 million.

The settlement statement noted that Black is suing the authors of that report for libel.

Much of the offending material came from one chapter in Newman’s book, entitled, “Black Magic: How Conrad Black became a Weapon of Mass Self-Destruction.” It recounts Black’s well-known legal problems, including the criminal investigation by federal authorities in Chicago — in which his former lieutenant, deposed Chicago Sun-Times Publisher David Radler, is cooperating in exchange for leniency in sentencing in his guilty plea to fraud — as well as a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

But according to Canadian press reports, the chapter also includes what the National Post last year called “salacious details” of the Blacks’ sexual behavior.

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