Peer of the Week - Lord Black
Author: Jon Narcross
Published on Oct 30, 2012
Our Peer of the Week series aims to shed some light on the members of the House of Lords who contribute to making laws in the UK. Each week, we'll look at the chosen Peer's background, voting and attendance records as well as any controversy associated with their actions, and question whether these really are the best people to be involved in the legislative process.
Who he is:
- The son of a wealthy Toronto businessman, Conrad Black was born on August 25th 1944 in Montreal, though he is now a British citizen
- He completed a law degree at Université Laval and a MA in history at McGill University
- His thesis, later published as a biography, exposed the political corruption and espionage of Quebec premier Maurice Duplessis
- He inherited his father's fortune in the 1980s and moved to the UK, taking over Hollinger International Inc.
- He took control of the Daily Telegraph in 1992, followed by a number of other newspapers, becoming an influential media tycoon and for a time the third largest newspaper magnate in the world
- Black was raised to peerage as Baron Black of Crossharbour in 2001
- His peerage was blocked by former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien; to accept the role, Black was forced to renounce his Canadian citizenship
Expenses, Voting and Attendance Records:
- Since becoming a peer in 2001,Black has only voted on 20 occasions – just 1.4% of possible votes
- Despite being imprisoned in 2007 he continued to be a member of the Lords until June 2012 when he took a leave of absence
- His notable votes include: voting against allowing non married couples to adopt in 2002; and voting against House of Lords reform in 2003
- Often outspoken, Black once described rival media baron Rupert Murdoch as, "a psychopath ... like Stalin, except that he doesn't kill people. I'm not suggesting he's a homicidal psychopath – he just severs people out of his life like that. I have great admiration for what he's achieved but he's a terrible man."
- He was forced to step down as CEO of the Hollinger International in 2003, after it was claimed that he fraudulently pocketed $60 million through the sale of assets and unauthorised transactions
- He was also accused of misusing around $20 million of company funds on things like parties, trips and a Manhattan apartment, and of paying himself a tax free bonus from the sale of newspaper assets without the approval of the company's board
- In 2007 he was convicted of defrauding Hollinger International shareholders of $6.1 million, and sentenced to 78 months in prison; this was cut to 42 months after an appeal
- He was released on May 4th 2012, and returned to his native Canada after controversially being granted a one-year temporary resident permit
- Despite his conviction, he plans to resume his seat in the House of Lords – there is currently no rule about those with convictions retaining their position