Diary: How the treatment of Conrad Black bleeds the heart

The vindictiveness of American justice never ceases to astound. Fifty-year sentences under the three-strikes rule for stealing a slice of pizza; chain gangs and weevil 'n' maggot suppers in Alabama; a new craze for charging pregnant drug addicts who miscarry with murder ... we look across the ocean and recoil at the barbarity.

Yet has anything bled the heart like the treatment of Conrad Black? For no stronger reason than not having served his time, the Reuben "Hurricane" Carter of the Gulfstream classes learned last week that his sojourn on bail must soon give way to another year or so in jug. No wonder Barbara Amiel reacted to the news with the least comical public faint since Atkinson crashed to the floor during Dixon's Merrie England lecture in Lucky Jim.

As if that weren't grief enough, his lordship will be barred from America on release, despite his lawyer's insistence that "he can recite the vice-presidents of the US in order". What merriment awaits Florida's Coleman Correctional Facility when the Napoleon of D block returns to his homies. "Now everybody, with me. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr Jnr... no, no, Ho-Killer McBride, how many times? George Clinton before Elbridge T Gerry." But all things must end, and when his time is done it seems that he and Babs will head for Canada. One appreciates the desire to go back to a homeland, where able was he ere he saw ermine. But must he turn his back on Merrie England when we need him reviving the fight for shorter sentences with the special authority of personal insight?



* If Conrad sees sense and returns to the Lords to speak for fellow-cons, might he reinvent himself as a Hollinger socialist and cross to the Labour benches? With Ed Miliband frantically repositioning his party to the Coalition right on law and order, it seems unlikely. Yet knowing Conrad's admiration for strong leaders, there must be a chance. With the plans to scrap Shadow Cabinet elections and union influence on Labour policy, Ed has become unbelievably hard. Indeed, we gather that he will begin his summer hols by racing Todd Palin across Alaska in the Iron Dog snowmobile challenge, before swimming to Florida to lobby Conrad and wrestle 'gators in the Everglades. If he hasn't robbed Vladimir Putin of the world No 1 macho politician ranking by the time his adenoids go under the knife, I'll be amazed.



* Mixed tidings for the family Huhne. The Sunday Times has handed the police a tape concerning that alleged criminal conspiracy to redirect speeding points, as recorded over the phone by Chris's ex, Vicky Pryce, to the law. Meanwhile, Vicky has been offered the post of executive editor on the News of the World.



* The vaudevillian double act between Lady editor Rachel Johnson and its owner Julia Budworth goes from strength to strength. The act involves them publicly slagging each other off – Mrs B moans about Rachel's penis fixation; Rachel dismisses Mrs B as an imperious old trout – in a mannered style the casual observer might confuse with a quest for free publicity. Thankfully, Rachel has now yielded to public demand by turning the diary of her first year at the helm into a reference work. "September 13: I've sent Mrs Budworth a copy of my book... She's sent it back with a note saying she has no intention of reading it." Shocking manners, as an Alan Partridge gag has it, but blimey what a critic.



* Sadly not everyone shares Rachel's commitment to wage a fierce internal battle against innate love of privacy. Laura Kuenssberg, such a star of the BBC's election coverage, has moved to ITV as business editor. Why Laura has opted to broadcast not only to camera but in camera as well remains unclear, but we wish her success in the post.

* Photographs of an unrecognisable Shane Warne cause concern for Liz Hurley's mental well-being. Liz , bless her, is dating Warne's waxwork. If anyone at the Tussauds' stock room strays into the "disused: to be melted" section, and hears a model cussing in fluent larrikin, call the authorities at once.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes