Brit Nobles, US Courtiers Move to Dismiss $1.2bn Lawsuit

08 July 2004

The noble House of Black -- Lord Conrad of that Ilk and his Lady Wife, the journalist Barbara Amiel Black -- yesterday filed a motion to dismiss the $1.2 billion (€969.0m; £646.2m) lawsuit brought against them by His Lordship's former fiefdom, Hollinger International [H-Intl].

Other supplicants in the motion include former members of Black's court: F David Radler (quondam cfo at H-Intl) and Daniel Colson (erstwhile Telegraph Group ceo and coo of H-Intl).

All have been named in the Hollinger suit, brought against them under the so-called Rico law (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act), more often invoked in Mafia-related cases. This particular slice of US legislation allows for tripling of damages and also elevates the case to federal level.

Use of Rico in this instance, aver lawyers for the Black camp, is "over-reaching". Furthermore: "We believe that the Rico claim ... is an attempt [by H-Intl] to generate newspaper headlines with a lawsuit that it has no basis for bringing in a court of law.'

The defense motion asserts there was no wrongdoing by the defendants who channelled substantial sums allegedly due to H-Intl into other companies controlled by themselves.

These actions, the defense insists, were approved by [H-Intl's] independent directors: "'a group of highly sophisticated and talented leaders from business, law and government who were fully capable of properly supervising the transactions in question."

Among these independent paragons were such well-known names as A Alfred Taubman (who remained on the Hollinger board even while serving a prison sentence), one-time US secretary of state Henry A Kissinger, and former US assistant defence secretary Richard Perle.

• Meantime, in another chapter of the never-ending story, it emerged Wednesday that Black recently held discussions with Triarc Companies concerning a possible sale of all H-Intl assets. These talks were held concurrent with the separate auction conducted by Lazard for the Telegraph properties.

Triarc is better known as the franchisor of the Arby's fast-food system which owns or franchises some 3,400 restaurants worldwide. It is the tenth largest such chain in the United States.

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff