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Will Telegraph’s Conrad Black win a get out of jail card?

Well the disgraced tycoon, currently serving a six and a half year sentence for fraud as inmate 18330-424 in Florida’s Coleman prison, just might as the US supreme court has ruled that he was treated unfairly when a judge threw out his appeal against his conviction.

Black was grassed up by his long-time associate David Radler.

US courts tend to lock up businessmen who annoy them rather easily and a new judge may well find that Black’s notorious ‘non-compete’ deals (where the company he ran paid him millions of dollars for not competing with it) were naughty but not actually fraudulent.

He will still however have to pay the penalty for removing boxes of evidence from his Toronto apartment.

In most countries, certainly the UK, Black would have been released by now anyway (he was convicted in 2007) but the US doesn’t do remission.

It’s not as though Black has been exactly languishing in jail. He writes a column for the National Post in Canada (a paper he launched and then sold, trousering a legal non-compete payment) and in his guise as military historian and all-round man of letters (he’s obsessed with Napoleon, never a welcome sign) has been tutoring Coleman inmates.

Black, who picked up the Daily and Sunday Telegraph titles from UK media dynasty the Hartwells remarkably cheaply to add to his Hollinger empire which then consisted of small Canadian papers, was actually a good press proprietor, writing letters to the editor when he disagreed with Max Hastings’ decisions rather than firing him.

His misfortunes coincided with his marriage to columnist Barbara Amiel, a lass from Enfield North London, who became a name columnist in Canada and had a self-confessed limitless appetite for the finer things in life.

So Conrad decided he needed the Park Avenue apartment, the mansion in Kensington and a private jet.

Will the Yankees do the decent thing and set him free? By the time his new appeal has been heard it’ll probably be 2013 anyway.

Knowing Conrad he’ll already be wondering if an acquittal will mean that he gets his old title of Lord Black of Crossharbour back.

But that’s surely too much to hope for.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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