Jury selection starts today in an imposing Chicago courthouse that next week will see a gathering of some of the most highly paid and sought after legal minds in North America. 2

Jury selection starts today in an imposing Chicago courthouse that next week will see a gathering of some of the most highly paid and sought after legal minds in North America.

Ahead of them lies four months arguing what is one of the most anticipated white-collar trial for years. When the jury returns its verdict, the man who once ran one of the most influential media empires in the world will either face decades of jail time or walk away a free man.

For Lord Black, Baron Black of Crossharbour, former proprietor of The Daily Telegraph, the event will either end one of the most ferocious legal battles in modern times, or free him to pursue another legal fight, against those he believes have hounded him.

He is relishing the challenge to prove his innocence. Prosecutors are no less keen to get to work on what they allege are “blatant and pervasive frauds” extending “from back rooms to the board room and from Park Avenue to the South Pacific”.

On the face of it, the amounts concerned are small. The total Lord Black and his associates are said to have “fraudulently diverted” from his holding company, Hollinger International, is some $84m. The money said to have been lost in the Enron case, for example, ran into the billions.

In that case, shareholders and many workers were left almost penniless. Stories of pensioners whose life savings had been wiped out by the fraud and subsequent bankruptcy, ensured the court atmosphere was highly charged.

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