Page last updated at 10:38 GMT, Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Conrad Black on his prison life

Conrad Black in court (image from March 2007)
Black was convicted in July 2007

Former media tycoon Conrad Black has told how he has been expanding his social circle and learning to play the piano during his first year in prison.

Black, a member of the House of Lords, was jailed for six-and-a-half years for fraud and obstruction of justice.

In an e-mail interview with Canadian newspaper the National Post he said his day started with granola and ended with coffee made by Colombian prisoners.

He also revealed he was giving history and politics lectures.

In an interview with the paper to mark his first anniversary in the Florida Coleman Federal Correctional Facility, he said there was no violence and "everyone tries to make conditions for everyone as decent as possible".

"It is not difficult to find interesting people to talk to and I have time to read and write," he said.

Coffee drinking

Describing his daily routine, he said he got up just after 0700, except on weekends and holidays.

"I eat some granola and go to my workplace where I tutor high school-leaving candidates, one-on-one, though sometimes I have to deal with up to four at a time, around my desk, and talk with fellow tutors and other convivial people.

"I lunch around 11am with friends from education, work on e-mails, play the piano for 30 to 60 minutes, return to my tutoring tasks by 1pm, return to my unit at 3pm, deal with more e-mails, rest from 4pm to 6pm, eat dinner in the unit then, and go for a walk in the compound or recreation yard for a couple of hours, drinking coffee well made by Colombian fellow residents.

"I come back into the residence about 8.30pm, deal with e-mails and whatever, have my shower etc, around midnight, read until 1-1.30am and go to sleep. On the weekends it is pretty open."

My circle hasn't so much changed as expanded. The people I mainly see here are often not unlike people I might know outside
Conrad Black

Black said his time was also spent reviewing books for publications in the UK, US and Canada, giving lectures to students and learning the piano.

"In some respects, there is less intrusion here of the irritations of daily life than on the outside," he said.

The former tycoon claimed his incarceration had not affected his social life.

"My circle hasn't so much changed as expanded. The people I mainly see here are often not unlike people I might know outside.

"I have also met many interesting people from a variety of backgrounds that were somewhat unfamiliar to me, but are no less interesting for that, and have been quite informative in some ways."

Black and three other executives were convicted of defrauding shareholders of one-time newspaper publishing giant Hollinger International, which used to own the Daily Telegraph.

A US federal appeals court unanimously upheld his conviction in 2008.

Once one of the UK's wealthiest and most influential media figures, he had given up his Canadian citizenship in 2000 to become a British lord.



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