Conrad Black, felon, fraudster, crusader against the US justice system, over here and on tele, protesting his innocene and flogging his book. It’s a pretty spectacular fall from grace by anyone’s standards, not least the millionaire who lived a billionaire’s lifestlye and was once the third most powerful press baron on the planet.
But he’s back, and, far from showing any hint of remorse or repentance, has been doing the rounds, giving Jeremy Paxman and Adam Boulton what for earlier in the week, and tonight, squaring up to Paul Merton and Ian Hislop on Have I Got News For You.
For those who missed his must-watch interviews, here they are in all their glory; first, Newsnight…
…then Sky News:
His anger was apparent – expect the following lines about the US justice system to be repeated this evening, he told Paxman…
“99.5 per cent of prosecutions in the US are convicted, the whole system is a fraudulent, fascistic conveyor belt of a corrupt prison system. Let me tell you something, that 5% of the population of the world are Americans, that 25% of the incarcerated people are and 50% of the lawyers are.
“99.5 per cent conviction rate. Six to 12 times as many incarcerated people per capita as Britain, Canada, Australia, France, Germany or Japan.”
… and the almost word-for-word woe is me rant to Bolton:
“I feel I’m quite rehabilitated, given the correlation of forces between the US government and myself and the fact that 99.5 per cent of prosecutions in that country end in convictions, 97 of the 99.5 without a trial, it’s such a stacked deck…
“Are you under the impression that everybody in the United States is convicted honourably and accurately?
“Do you realise there are six to 12 times as many incarcerated people per capita as Canada, Australia, Britain, France, Germany or Japan, it has 48 million people with a record. It has a legal system that consumes 10 per cent of GDP.”
According to the US Department of Justice’s United States Attorneys’ Annual Statistical Report (pdf), however, in fiscal year 2010/11: 97% of cases which were terminated didn’t go to trial; 93% of defendents terminated pled guilty or were found guilty; there was a conviction rate of more than 90%; and 97% of convicted defendants pled guilty prior to or during trial.
But then, according to Conrad, they would say that wouldn’t they… Tune in tonight on BBC One at nine for more!