Conrad Black leaves noisy prison cell behind to resume life as socialite

TORONTO – Conrad Black says he is enjoying the “silence” of his new found freedom as his surroundings shift from the “constant noise” of fellow prisoners to what he calls a “not all that social” life that includes public outings three or four times a week.

“I’m a reasonably socialable person, but you get tired of the constant noise of 140 men, although some of them were fairly amusing, I might say,” the former media baron, most recently a resident of a Miami prison complex, told reporters Monday after his latest memoir was shut out at the National Business Book Awards.

“I’m not all that social, but we go out three or four times a week,” he added of his life since leaving his cell nearly a month ago.

Black said that he’s becoming accustomed to the creature comforts of his posh Toronto home, but added the psychological change is not as great as the physical one.

“Physically, the contrast between my accommodation there and my home is certainly quite a striking one, but it wasn’t as great a psychological change as you might think because as far as I was concerned, I knew I would be back here soon and I never accepted that there was any legitimacy to being there in the first place,” he said.

“Indeed, the way I conducted things there, I was on the email as much of the day and was writing these columns for various places, and receiving up to 200 emails a day, so psychologically I didn’t live in that place anyway,” he said.

The British citizen is in Canada on a one-year temporary resident permit by the federal government, despite the fact that he would not normally be criminally admissible for long-term residency in the country.

He said he plans to keep writing for Canadian media outlets, including the Huffington Post Canada and the National Post, the newspaper he founded more than a decade ago — even if it means he can’t be paid.

“I have no plan to stop. As long as I have the time to do it. I tend to rattle the stuff out fairly fast, but I’m getting a lot busier now, for obvious reasons, and I’ll do it as long as I have the time for it,” he said.

“I write three columns a week, plus often one in England. I don’t have an unlimited amount of time to devote to it, and I don’t want to get into the business of rattling out a lot of rubbish. People can like or not like what I write, but I want to be satisfied it’s adequate quality.”

When Black, who does not have a Canadian work permit, was asked whether he is paid for his column in the (U.S.-based) Huffington Post he responded: “Yes and no. I have special arrangements.”

The former media baron was released from a Florida jail earlier this month after serving time for convictions related to his business dealings at the helm of Hollinger, an international newspaper publisher that Black formerly controlled.

Although Black originally faced more than a dozen charges laid by U.S. authorities, he was convicted of just four by a jury. Two of the convictions were overturned after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that one of the laws used to convict him and other executives of fraud had been too broadly applied.