Conrad Black plans return to the Lords after Trump pardon

Media caption“I’m not bitter.”

The former owner of the Daily Telegraph, Conrad Black, has said he plans to return to the UK House of Lords after the US president pardoned him for a fraud conviction.

Lord Black spent more than three years in a US jail and was released in 2012.

In May, Donald Trump pardoned Lord Black after he wrote a book praising the president.

But Lord Black, a long-time friend of Mr Trump, said the pardon was not a response to his writings.

Instead, the former media mogul said the executive clemency order – which the US Department of Justice says is an expression of a US president’s forgiveness – was “putting right an injustice”.

Commenting on the effect of the pardon, Lord Black said: “Officially in the United States, I’ve never been charged and I won in the end.”

“It was a war, there are casualties in wars,” he told the BBC’s Michelle Fleury in an interview at his Toronto home. “I lost the time, I lost a lot of money, but as you can see my standard of living isn’t bad.”

Now, Lord Black is planning a return to the House of Lords for the first time since he was convicted in 2007.

Lord Black said that he had already planned to retake his seat after being released from prison but the presidential pardon “makes it easier”.

Good timing

He said the ongoing Brexit debate made the timing of his return fortuitous.

“The truth is, these last 15 years, I haven’t been as interested in British politics as I was before – in the Thatcher years.”

“It could be quite interesting again, in fact it is as of right now – its very interesting,” he said. But the peer claimed that it was not just Brexit that attracted him back to the chamber.

“It’s my good fortune that at a time when it is feasible, it happens – by happy coincidence – that it is a time of great fermentation in British public affairs.”

Lord Black said that he had, at first, assumed the president’s call – confirming his pardon – was a prank by the Daily Mail newspaper in the UK.

Not bitter

He described his mood as “good”, adding: “I’m not bitter”. He said: “The one good thing about the legal problems is that I got to write a lot more.”

Last year he published the book Donald J Trump: A President Like No Other.

In the opening chapter of the book, he writes: “Like the country he represents, Donald Trump possesses the optimism to persevere and succeed, the confidence to affront tradition and convention, a genius for spectacle, and a firm belief in common sense and the common man.”

Lord Black renounced his Canadian citizenship when he became a British peer in 2001 but moved back to Canada following his release from a Florida prison.

In 2014 Canada stripped him of its highest honour, the Order of Canada, which was awarded in 1990 for a lifetime of achievement.

In 2007 Lord Black was convicted of defrauding Hollinger International shareholders of $6.1m (£4.7m), by paying himself a tax-free bonus from the sale of newspaper assets without the approval of the company’s board.

He had been forced out of the company by shareholders in 2003.

After his conviction, he was sentenced to 78 months in prison. He then pursued a partially successful appeal, in which a judge cut his sentence down to 42 months.

“Lord Black’s case has attracted broad support from many high-profile individuals who have vigorously vouched for his exceptional character,” a White House statement announcing the pardon said.

It said he had made “tremendous contributions to business, as well as to political and historical thought” and that, “in light of these facts”, and he was “entirely deserving of this Grant of Executive Clemency”.

Conrad Black plans return to the Lords after Trump pardon}