Conrad Black, BBC host have heated exchange
Former media baron tempted to 'smash' interviewer's face
Former media baron Conrad Black, on his first visit to London after his release from a U.S. jail last spring, was in fighting form during a testy exchange with renowned BBC television broadcaster Jeremy Paxman.
Black took the brash host of Newsnight to task for calling him a "convicted fraudster" in an interview that aired Monday night.
BBC Two's Newsnight interview with Conrad Black
The exchange turned heated after Paxman admonished Black for saying the charges of fraud and obstruction of justice, which landed him in jail for three years, were "rubbish" and that he never would have been convicted in Canada or the U.K.
Paxman reminded Black he had indeed been convicted in the U.S. of defrauding investors.
"Would you stop that bourgeois priggishness?" Black said. "You’re talking as if..."
"What bourgeois priggishness? You’re a criminal," Paxman interrupted.
"No I'm not a criminal," Black continued, adding everything he did was legal and that the U.S. justice system is "a fraudulent, fascistic conveyor belt of the corrupt prison system" and that he was up against a "smear job from A to Z."
When Paxman repeated "You are a criminal," Black retorted with "You're a fool. You're just a gullible fool. You're a priggish gullible British fool who takes seriously this ghastly American justice system that any sane English person knows is an outrage."
In the second half of the interview, Black said he was proud of surviving his jail sentence without "becoming irrational" and "actually being able to endure a discussion like this without getting up and smashing your face in."
Black returned to his home in Toronto following his release from a Florida prison.
He was born in Montreal, but gave up his Canadian citizenship in 2001 after being offered a peerage in Britain’s House of Lords. Then-prime minister Jean Chrétien blocked Black's acceptance of the role while he held a Canadian passport.
Black has now indicated he plans to resume his seat in the House of Lords.
When asked by Paxman whether he would return to the House of Lords, he replied, "Well, why not," adding there is no rule against those with convictions from doing so.