The former newspaper tycoon Conrad Black has launched a scathing attack on Rupert Murdoch – branding the media magnate a "psychopath" and comparing him to Joseph Stalin.
The former owner of the Daily Telegraph, who spent 37 months in a US prison for fraud, described the News Corporation chairman as an "astonishingly cold man".
"He's a psycopath ... like Stalin, except that he doesn't kill people," Black said. "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 added that the public outcry over revelations of phone hacking within News Corp was "one of the all-time backflips of hypocrisy".
Lord Black, who was released from jail in May, was speaking ahead of much-anticipated appearance on the BBC satirical show Have I Got News For You on Friday, as he returns to Britain to promote his memoirs.
"For 40 years [the establishment] knew how Murdoch ran his company and they did nothing but kiss his undercarriage," Lord Black told the Mail on Sunday. "Mr Murdoch is a psychopath, a person of no emotional or ethical thought, governed entirely by an expedient analysis of what his self-interest requires."
Speaking of his imminent television appearance, Lord Black said: "I'm only going on because I'm trying to sell the book. I wouldn't cross the street to appear on it if I wasn't." He added that the programme's regular contestants Ian Hislop and Paul Merton could be "as brutal as they want and I'll feel fully licensed to reciprocate".
His only praise was reserved for Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London and his former editor at The Spectator, who was a "man of destiny".
Before being convicted in the US of skimming money from his Chicago-based holding company, Hollinger International, Lord Black was known for his wealthy lifestyle typified by private jets and luxury mansions. Yesterday he described himself as "dwarfed by a caricature public image that has lurched about like a clumsy monster for decades".
Lord Black, who has since overturned 15 of the 17 charges brought against him, hopes his book, A Matter of Principle, will replace the current draft of history as depicted by Tom Bower in the 2006 biography Conrad And Lady Black: Dancing On The Edge. Bower's book depicted Lord Black as spending other people's money maintaining an excessive billionaire lifestyle for him and his columnist wife, Barbara Amiel.
Yesterday Lord Black said: "'I assume [Bower] was engaged to write a smear job and that he has been indemnified because if he isn't we'll take the fillings out of his teeth and the roof off his house when we finally get around to dragging him into court here. He's a dead man."