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Friday, July 13, 2007 

Good riddance to Black rubbish.

Shed a tear then for poor, misunderstood clearly innocent Conrad Black. He faces a likely sentence of between 15 and 20 years in prison, after being convicted on three counts of mail fraud and one of obstructing justice. He was acquitted of nine other charges, among them wire fraud and racketeering.

The rise and fall of such haughty, arrogant and at times seemingly invincible public figures is always something to behold. While Black's denouement has nothing on when
Cap'n Bob went for a unplanned dip in the Atlantic, to see him brought to account for his crimes while Maxwell's were only discovered after his death ought to gladden the hearts of all those who've previously found themselves defrauded by the uncaring corporate face of capitalism.

Unlike Maxwell however, the establishment chose to ennoble, recognise and salute Black. While Maxwell won the support of the electorate of his constituency for the duration of his six-year stay in parliament, it was that paragon of virtue Tony Blair that saw fit to elevate Black into the Lords. Black jumped through hoops, renouncing his Canadian citizenship, in order to sit in that most regal and outdated of chambers and become Baron Black of Crossharbour in Tower Hamlets. It was a cruel irony, and typical of the contempt that both New Labour and the Telegraph group which he once owned have for the poor that this most opulent, extravagant and decadent of press barons was in effect representing the most economically deprived borough in the country.

Questions will now again be raised of whether those within the Telegraph during Black's ignoble reign either knew what he was doing, or if they were over protective and unwilling to question their quick to anger and dismissive boss. Even now under Barclay brothers, the paper has still gone out of its way to be accommodating to its former owner, allowing him to write a riposte to
Tom Bower's biography, the prose marked by the Telegraph's own description as in Black's "characteristically pugnacious manner". Others might call it his narcissistic unwillingness to accept any criticism of either himself or his gorgeous, pouting wife, Barbara Amiel, who once boasted that her own extravagance knew no bounds, since passed off as "self-satire". Even if she was being self-deprecating, that doesn't alter the fact that in a profile of her in Vogue the reporter drooled about her belongings:

"a fur closet, a sweater closet, a closet for shirts and T-shirts and a closet so crammed with evening gowns that the overflow has to be kept in yet more closets downstairs".

And there was more - a dozen Herm├Ęs Birkin bags, 30 or 40 handbags made by Renaud Pellegrino, and more than 100 pairs of Manolo Blahnik shoes.

Additionally, unlike Maxwell, who despite being a disastrous businessman, union basher and in the 60s declared unfit to head a public company was still a Labour supporter, Black turned the Telegraph and its titles even further to the right, introducing such calm and measured minds as Mark Steyn, currently convinced that Europe is about to be taken over by the Muslim hordes, and err, Barbara Amiel, given a whole page of broadsheet to pen her diatribes about how evil the BBC's coverage of Israel/Palestine is and why Ariel Sharon should have hit the Palestinians even harder than he dared. The editorial line on the same issue was almost as harsh, while support for war in Iraq was enthusiastic, although in mitigation the Tories' themselves were if anything more gung-ho in 2003 than Labour was.

His conviction ought to give us hope that more of the unaccountable, greedy and misleading purveyors of pure shit morning, noon and night can be brought down to size.
Roy Greenslade, in a piece of apologism for Black which the lying, stealing bastard doesn't in the slightest deserve points out that he was not the worst of newspaper owners. True. Many of us can't wait for the day that Rupert Murdoch finds himself in the cell next to Black. Who will complain to us in print that they're like holiday camps then?

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