Less charm, more offensive: Conrad Black says first week back has gone perfectly

The disgraced former media mogul has no regrets over his colourful and venomous outbursts, he tells Tom Peck

It was the type of charm offensive the British media likes best – bilious, controversial, and highly quotable. So at the end of a week in which Lord Black of Crossharbour, in attempting to shift copies of his memoir, called Ian Hislop a banana, Sky News's Adam Boulton a jackass, and threatened to punch Jeremy Paxman's face in, how does the former media mogul, convicted fraudster and peer of the realm think it all went?

"Pretty well," he said, in an interview with The Independent. "It has been quite extensive and most of it has been perfectly civil. There's been a good deal of attention focused on the few occasions when the questions were quite provoking and I responded in an escalated way. That has probably received more attention that it deserved. Whether it was done civilly or in a more abrasive way, I think I got my point across and I'm perfectly satisfied."

What has provoked Lord Black's most enjoyably venomous outbursts is the assertion that – having been jailed in the US for fraud and for obstruction of justice in 2007 – he is a guilty man. While most of the more serious charges brought against him have since been quashed or overturned, two remain on his record. "That is one of the lesser inconveniences of this ghastly persecution that I endured for nine years," he said. "You have to put it into context of someone who is completely innocent of all the charges against them, and did get rid of all the charges, until some of them rather spuriously were retrieved by self-serving judges." It is a well-worn line.

"There are some people whose opinion I value and respect and it would be very bothersome if I forfeited their respect. But the general public? I'm not preoccupied with the opinions of others."

Since May this year Lord Black has been a free man, residing in his native Canada on a year-long permit, which is likely to be extended. He still, as far as he is concerned, has a "perfect right" to sit in the House of Lords, and would like to do so again. "If I think I am qualified to say something, and if it is not going to lead to an irritating and distracting controversy, but I'm not going to force my way in. I don't want to embarrass any of their lordships – but eventually maybe."

London society has, he says, welcomed him back. His incarceration has cost him "a few friends" but not many. "It has been like olden times. Very fine dinners, sparkling conversations, fine evenings every night I've been here. "

His wife, the journalist Barbara Amiel, has not come with him. "Because Elton John and David Furnish have been such loyal friends to us, she wanted to go to David's birthday in Los Angeles. She has also became quite a dog enthusiast, and she doesn't like to be away from the dogs for very long."

The former owner of The Daily Telegraph hasn't picked up a newspaper in the time he's been here. "I've only looked at the articles that have involved me. I haven't seen The Daily Telegraph for 10 years."

In his own words: Black on the media

To Paxman: "You are priggish, gullible, British fool... I'm proud of being able to endure a discussion like this without getting up and smashing your face in."

To Adam Boulton: "What's your name again?.... Stop being a jackass."

On the press: "In my consideration, while there are many individual exceptions, the London media are the lowest mutation of human life I have ever encountered."

On US justice: "The whole system is a fraudulent, fascistic conveyor belt to the corrupt prison system."

On Rupert Murdoch "He's 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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Guru Careers: Management Accountant

£27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

Guru Careers: Recruitment Resourcer / Recruitment Account Manager

£20 - 25k + Bonus: Guru Careers: Are you a Recruitment Consultant looking to m...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power