Conrad Black has elicited strong opinions over the years but in 1999, someone did more than disagree and sent him a death threat.
"By the way, if anyone knows how to get a message to Conrad Black, I want to tell him that this prophet of God is after him and I am going to get him," said an e-mail signed Brent Herbert, which was forwarded to Lord Black on July 4, 1999. "I recognize a child of God when I see one and this one is just about ready to be harvested."
Edward Genson, one of Lord Black's lawyers, showed the e-mail to jurors in Lord Black's criminal trial yesterday. He was making the point that during his time at Hollinger International Inc. Lord Black needed to travel via a company jet because of security concerns.
Prosecutors have alleged that Lord Black misused the company plane at the expense of Hollinger shareholders. Lord Black's lawyers have argued that he used the aircraft in part because of security concerns that arose from editorial positions taken by some publications in the Hollinger group.
Prosecutors have suggested the security concerns did not surface until 2003. Mr. Genson was countering that point with yesterday's e-mail.
According to documents filed in court, the e-mail was forwarded to Lord Black in London on July 4, 1999, by Richard Perle, who was a Hollinger director at the time.
"I just received this threatening e-mail and I am forwarding it to you immediately," Mr. Perle wrote in an e-mail sent from Washington. He urged Lord Black to contact the police in Britain, "and I may be able to do the same here."
Mr. Perle attached the e-mail which went on to complain about the wealthy, saying: "Isn't life bitter. Doesn't it just leave a bitter taste in one's mouth. Nothing works. Money. Power. It all comes to nothing. And how do these rich people do it - so gosh damned happy all the time? Mr. Black has never learned that dark art and if he hasn't learned it by now, he probably never will, which is just great news, at least from the point of view of this prophet."
The e-mail was one of several documents Mr. Genson put to the jury as defence lawyers wrap up their cases in the trial. He also provided an inventory of the 13 boxes Lord Black took from his office on May 20, 2005.
Prosecutors allege Lord Black took the boxes in violation of a Canadian court order and in anticipation of a subpoena. They have charged him with obstruction of justice. Lord Black returned the boxes a few days later and said they only contained personal items.
The inventory presented by Mr. Genson showed that the boxes held many mundane records such as tax returns, statements of airline reward miles, insurance forms and newspaper articles. There were also copies of letters Lord Black exchanged with Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic as well as papers related to Brascan share options.
Journalist John O'Sullivan also testified for Lord Black yesterday. Mr. O'Sullivan worked briefly at the National Post and he has edited several magazines including The National Interest, which was partly funded by Hollinger.
Mr. O'Sullivan attended a birthday party Lord Black held in 2000 in New York for his wife Barbara Amiel. He billed Hollinger for some of the $62,000 cost, saying it was partly a business event. Prosecutors allege Hollinger should not have paid anything.
Mr. O'Sullivan said the event "was a business event masquerading as a birthday party." But under cross examination by prosecutor Eric Sussman, Mr. O'Sullivan acknowledged he did not know how, or why, the expenses were divided.
A final witness was accounting expert Alan Funk. He reviewed more 400,000 pages of documents used by Hollinger's auditors and concluded there was no fraud at the company.