Attempts to force an independent probe of media group Hollinger International have met with success (of sorts).

Hollinger and its chairman/ceo Lord Conrad Black have been under pressure to let independent directors investigate questions raised by a leading shareholder [WAMN: 16-Jun-03]. A committee has now been set up for this purpose – but there is only one person on it.

The lone investigator is Gordon Paris, elected onto the board at the group’s last annual meeting and the only independent director eligible to join the committee.

Calls for a probe originate from New York investment firm Tweedy Browne, owner of nearly 18% of Hollinger stock. Tweedy has queried certain payments made to Black and other management, as well as the disposal of $38 million (€32.6m; £22.8m) of assets to Bradford Publishing, which it alleges is partly owned by Black and Hollinger chief operating officer David Radler.

As all Hollinger’s independent directors bar Paris were present when the payments in question were made, none of them can sit on the committee. Hollinger is now contemplating electing some new board members to give Paris some company.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff