Sunday, May 06, 2007

Advantage Black

Interesting times at the fraud trial of Lord Black, the ex-Canadian former head of media company Hollinger, one-time publisher of newspapers including the Daily Telegraph. He's accused of creaming off vast amounts of cash from his business interests to keep both himself and his big-spending wife in the manner to which they'd become accustomed. With high-profile prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald taking the case, many pundits predicted he'd have a tough time getting off at his trial in Chicago.

But last week was a pretty good one for Lord Black. Testifying against him, ex-Hollinger director Jim Thompson spent three days having large holes blown in his story by the defence team. It seems his memory of the various meetings and agreements isn't what it could be. Round one to Lord Black.

The potentially decisive part of the trial begins tomorrow. David Radler, who has admitted fraud in return for a light sentence in a soft Canadian jail, will take the stand as the prosecution's star witness. Radler's the man who worked with Lord Black for three decades, turning Hollinger into the world's third-largest newspaper group. But Lord Black will be hoping his former friend suffers the same fate in the witness box as Thompson did. If that happens, an acquittal that looked pretty unlikely when all this began starts to become a real possibility.

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