CHICAGO: David Radler, chief prosecution witness at the fraud and racketeering trial of fallen media baron Lord Conrad Black and three former associates, was admonished by the presiding judge for failing to give direct answers to counsel's questions.

Radler, on the witness stand for more than a week, has endured tough cross examination by the defense team, which has consistently and relentlessly painted him as a serial liar.

Federal Judge Amy St Eve told Radler's lawyer his client had to be more responsive to questions after he came back once too often with "I can't answer that question with a yes or no answer," and, "If it has to be yes or no, then I can't answer."

In three days of cross-examination, Black's lawyer, Edward 'Fast Eddie' Greenspan, made Radler admit more than once he had lied about aspects of the case in the past, and suggested he was still lying.

Fellow defence lawyer Gustave Newman pursued the theme, forcing Radler to admit that in earlier testimony he had underplayed the role of Hollinger International's Canadian lawyers and auditors when the company's board was told about certain payments that benefited Black.

Newman asked if Radler wanted to correct himself.

The witness replied: "I do want to correct my previous testimony."

Radler, Black's erstwhile aide de camp, has already plead guilty to one count of fraud and agreed to testify against His Lordship and three ex-Hollinger International executives (Jack Boultbee, Peter Atkinson and Mark Kipnis) in exchange for a reduced sentence of 29 months jail.

Black and his co-defendants are accused of pocketing more than $60 million (€44m; £30.1m) in non-compete payments that should have gone to the publishing company and its shareholders. All defendants deny wrongdoing.

The main thrust of their defense is that Black was busy in London running the Daily Telegraph, formerly owned by H-Intl, while Radler was making the deals that prosecutors say amounted to fraud.

The trial continues.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff