Saturday, August 12, 2017

Dear Brits. You Welcomed This Pompous Ass into Your House of Lords. He's Yours. You Take Him.

I've never closely followed the life and times of our once and former fellow citizen, Conrad Black. I know the basics. He fleeced his investors, usually legally. Then he crossed the line and landed in an American prison serving a stretch mainly for illegally attempting to make off with boxes of documents or, as those uppity lawyers like to call it, evidence. It was all recorded by security cameras. Pretty much open and shut.

Black said they were personal papers but he left himself wide open for the prosecutor, Sussman, who said,  "We will probably never know what Mr. Black took - we do know what Mr. Black returned." 

Three years in the pokey and then he and Barbara were shown the door, Conrad being told to scram and never come back.

Now at that point events in his lordship's life became a bit hazy. The power couple seemed to migrate to Toronto which struck me as curious given that, having renounced his Canadian citizenship, Conrad was a foreigner, a British citizen, and a convicted felon, a full-fledged jailbird. Yet back in Canada he was venting his arrogance in columns for The National Post. 

Why, I wondered, didn't he just go back to his adopted homeland where he remains a member in good standing of the House of Lords? This is the same guy who had jettisoned everything for that peerage and said some pretty nasty things about Canada and Canadians on his way out. If he went back he could pocket 300 pounds a day, tax free, for showing up at the House and signing the day book. That'd keep him and Babs in steak and kidney pies, maybe enough left over for a pint or two.

I finally figured out why Connie the Con may be hanging out in Toronto instead of Mayfair.  Life in the Greybar Hotel he could bear. Being shunned by the people of elevated station that matter to him he cannot. It's not that he didn't try when he threw an after-prison gala in 2012.

The guest list could hardly have been more impressive.

Invitations had been sent to London Mayor Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary William Hague, supermodel Elle Macpherson, Liz Hurley and Princess Margaret’s son Lord Linley.

Sadly, not one of these A-list celebrities turned out for the party this week for Conrad Black, the former newspaper baron whose media empire once included the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, The Spectator, Chicago Sunday Times, Jerusalem Post, and 500 titles across the U.S. and Canada.

The event was held at the very swanky private members’ club Loulou’s in the heart of Mayfair, to launch Lord Black of Crossharbour’s new book, A Matter Of Principle (available free in pdf here.)

Now he is back in Britain for the first time in seven years. He returned in typically pugilistic form on Monday, loudly proclaiming his innocence — as he has done all along.

And it is clear that his years behind bars have done little to invest him with humility, for he arrived on our shores this week excoriating old enemies and threatening revenge on all those he claimed had done him wrong.

He warned his biographer Tom Bower — whose book in 2006 painted a far from complimentary portrait of Lord Black and his wife Barbara Amiel living a billionaire’s lifestyle on other people’s money — to stay clear of him.

‘We’ll take the fillings out of his teeth and the roof off his house when we finally get round to dragging him into court here,’ Black growled at one interviewer. ‘He’s a dead man.’


Black’s lively, knockabout appearances on television cannot hide his over-arching desire — along with that of his wife Barbara, who is currently in Los Angeles for a four-day birthday party thrown by Elton John for his husband David Furnish — to claw himself back to respectability in British society.

After all, when he was last here, he was one of the world’s most influential newspaper barons, a man who surrounded himself with powerful figures from Margaret Thatcher to Henry Kissinger, the former U.S. Secretary of State. Guests at dinner parties at Lord Black’s magnificent £13 million mansion in Kensington included Cabinet ministers and showbusiness royalty such as Sir Elton.

He may talk defiantly about returning to the House of Lords, having been elevated to the peerage in 2001, when he was such a revered figure in Tory circles that Lady Thatcher and Lord Carrington, who was her first Foreign Secretary, introduced him to the Upper House.

But he has not dared set foot in their Lordships’ House since 2003, when questions about his business career first started surfacing, and some elements of the current Tory leadership regard him as a political pariah. One former Tory minister, who sits in the Lords, says: ‘He’s the last thing we need right now.’


‘Conrad is discovering this week it’s hard to come back,’ said one Tory grandee, who preferred to remain anonymous. ‘His whole demeanour suggests he has learned nothing from prison.

‘Barbara is urging him to come back to London because she can’t bear Toronto, which she thinks is ghastly. She wants to be back at high table with royalty and the cream of London society.’
But whether the cream of London is ready for the return of Conrad and Barbara is very much open to question.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting, Mound, but still doesn't explain how he got around the immigration laws to get into and stay in Canada. How is he able to work here? Was he granted PR status? And why the hell does the NatPo still publish his ravings?

The Mound of Sound said...

Cap, all I can imagine is that someone pulled strings during Harper's administration. Why Trudeau is tolerating this is something Liberals should take up with their leader - but, of course, they won't.

Trailblazer said...

Upper Canada, the deep state,old money; take your pick.
The fact remains that Canada and other countries would seem to be ruled by other than those we elect every four years.


Anonymous said...

I said pretty much the same thing about Black the other day on another blog, cannot remember which one. How he got back into Canada when foreign convicted felons cannot even pay a tourist visit is a question for harper alone. All illegal. Privilege of the Old Boy's Network and The Ritual of The Kissing of The Brass Ring.

From the National Post, that true repository and reporter of all things true and Canadian, May 4, 2012:

2:13 PM EDT

"Conrad Black arrived home in Toronto for the first time in nearly five years after being being released from a Florida prison early Friday morning.

The former media tycoon arrived at his home in Toronto’s Bridle Path neighbourhood Friday afternoon and was soon seen alongside his wife, Barbara Amiel.

As photographers and television cameras gathered around their front gate, Amiel and Black embraced and kissed as they walked around their property, enjoying one of Toronto’s first warm days of spring.

Lord Black, dressed in a dark suit, was enthusiastically greeted by his two pet dogs — pure white Hungarian Kuvaszok — inside his gated property after arriving home.

Lord Black was whisked away by U.S. immigration officials to await deportation early Friday morning after he left the Florida jail, serving nearly 42 months for fraud and obstruction of justice.

“Earlier today, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforcement and removal operations effected the return of Mr. Conrad Black to Canada in accordance with the final order of removal,” Nestor Yglesias, a spokesman for ICE, said in a statement.

Black is believed to have traveled to Toronto by private jet. "Nothing less would do", said the well-known world famous expert on military history and past media business owner and tycoon, "I dislike dried barf stains on airline seats immensely!". OK, I'm editorializing here..

Lord Black is a British citizen, but he has been granted a one-year temporary" resident permit by the Canadian government, which is valid from May 2012 to May 2013."

One year temporary permit, eh? Have there been any official extensions for this blowhard? We should dump him in Blighty like the Americans dumped him back on us. He's theirs whether they like it or not. Amiel reminds me of Lady Docker, wife of an English industrial magnate made rich by WW2 contracts. She was a notorious snob with no talents other than being an ostentatious society rich bitch in the 1950s. Generally despised. Amiel on the face of it fits that pattern. Extreme over self-worth feelings, and a tendency to snap at mere unworthy filthy proles who might be actual communists you never know, oh the horror, in this case all of the GTA. Yes T.O. you have been judged unworthy by your obvious superiors. So reform, won't you?