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Court declares Conrad Black can sue in Canada for libel

Former media baron may be released from prison next month.

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Former press magnate Conrad Black and wife Barbara Amiel leave federal court in Chicago where he was re-sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison on June 24, 2011. (Brian Kersey/AFP/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court of Canada cleared the way for Conrad Black – who once lorded over the world’s third-largest media empire – to sue former directors at his now crumbled Hollinger International for libel, Postmedia News reported today.

Although it’s primarily a jurisdictional ruling, in a prepared statement, Black’s attorney said he was pleased with the decision.

“Conrad Black is delighted about the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, which today decided that the Ontario court has jurisdiction to take his claims brought in 2004 and 2005 against Richard Breeden and other former directors and officers of the company formerly known as Hollinger International Inc.,” Lisa Munro said, according to Postmedia.

Black, 67, launched libel lawsuits against the directors in 2004 surrounding press releases from Hollinger about alleged fraud, AFP reported.

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Defendants in the case argued Ontario courts had no jurisdiction in the case, but the Supreme Court disagreed today.

"The impugned statements were read, downloaded and republished in Ontario by three newspapers,” the court ruling read, according to AFP.

It’s a moral victory for Black, who had already agreed to a settlement with the former directors, CBC said.

Black sued in Ontario because he owns a home there and built Hollinger from Toronto.

He once owned some of the world’s largest newspapers, including The Daily Telegraph, Chicago Sun-Times, Jerusalem Post, Sydney Morning Herald and the National Post in Canada.

However, in 2003 shareholders accused him of fraud. An Illinois court convicted him, and he’s currently completing a sentence in Florida, where he also owned a home.

Black might be released as early as next month, CBC said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/120418/court-declares-conrad-black-can-sue-canada-libel