Newman apologizes to Black to end libel suit

Author Peter C. Newman has publicly apologized to former media baron Conrad Black as part of a deal to end a $2.1-million libel suit.

Author Peter C. Newman has publicly apologized to former media baron Conrad Black as part of a deal to end a $2.1-million libel suit.

Black objected to a passage alleging he broke the law that was included in Newman's 2004 memoir Here Be Dragons: Telling Tales of People, Passion and Power.

Newman issued a "statement of regret" over the disputed comments late Tuesday, accompanied by a press release from his Toronto-based lawyer, Howard Winkler, that said it was part of an out-of-court settlement.

"Mr. Newman acknowledges that Lord Black is entitled to the presumption that he is innocent of any wrongdoing and apologizes for and retracts any contrary impression his words may have conveyed," the statement reads.

The statement said Black objected to comments that were based on information from an August 2004 report by a special committee of Hollinger International, once Black's main operating company.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and the statement issued by Newman's legal team notes that Black "has strenuously denied allegations against him and expressed confidence that he will be judicially vindicated."

Black is suing the authors of the Hollinger report.

In November, 2005, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago laid fraud charges against Black, alleging he illegally pocketed millions of dollars belonging to Hollinger, his publicly traded newspaper company.

Black has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Black's seven-page statement of claim in the lawsuit against Newman was filed in Ontario's Superior Court of Justice on Nov. 9, 2005.

Besides suing for financial damages, Black had asked for an injunction against the book being distributed.

Winkler said on Tuesday that with Newman's retraction, Black's legal action has been "dismissed without costs."

The suit gained attention in part because Newman, 76, was served while attending a black-tie party in Toronto marking the 100th anniversary of Maclean's magazine.

Black, 61, and his wife, Barbara Amiel, were also at the function.

Newman is also facing a lawsuit by former prime minister Brian Mulroney over another book, The Secret Mulroney Tapes: Unguarded Confessions of a Prime Minister.

Mulroney alleges Newman broke an agreement by using tapes of private conversations between the two men, who were old friends, to produce what the lawsuit documents allege is a "scandalous" gossip book instead of the serious and scholarly biography that Mulroney says he expected.