The former media baron Conrad Black does not have the right to have an oral hearing before the panel that will decide whether he gets to remain an Officer of the Order of Canada, the Federal Court has ruled.
Saying that his credibility was at issue, Mr. Black wanted to take the stand before the Advisory Council of the Order, the 11-person panel which governs membership to one of the country’s most prestigious civilian honour.
Mr. Black was notified last summer that the council was considering terminating his honour because he had to serve a 42-month prison sentence in the United States for fraud and obstruction of justice.
After his return to Canada last spring, Mr. Black turned to the Federal Court in July when the council had turned down his request to appear in person.
Mr. Black, who says he is a victim of overzealous American prosecutors, argued in court filings that there were complex issues that could not be dealt solely by written submissions.
“You do need to see the man to believe him or disbelieve him,” Mr. Black’s lawyer, Peter Howard, told the Federal Court at a hearng in August.
The court disagreed.
“I fail to see how Mr. Black could use an oral hearing to establish that he did nothing wrong, legally or morally, without by necessity attempting to relitigate the decisions of the U.S. courts,” Mr. Justice Yves de Montigny said in his decision.
It would be inappropriate for the Council to second-guess the decisions of the U.S. courts, the judge added.
“Contrary to his [Mr. Black’s] assertion, credibility is not the key factor or the primary consideration for the Council in assessing whether it should recommend the termination of his appointment to the Order.”
The courts should defer to the council’s right to select its own procedures, Judge de Montigny said.
Mr. Black was named to the Order of Canada in 1990. He revoked his Canadian citizenship in 2001 to accept a peerage and join the British House of Lords.
He was convicted in Chicago in 2007 of fraud and obstruction of justice over the misappropriation of money at the newspaper giant Hollinger International Inc.
It was the second judicial setback for Mr. Black this month.
Two weeks ago, a U.S. federal judge ordered him to pay $6.1-million in penalties for violating U.S. securities laws during his time at Chicago-based Hollinger International Inc.
Mr. Black meanwhile was in London, giving testy interviews to promote his book, A Matter of Principle, about his travails with the American legal system.
In his latest interview, Friday with the BBC’s Hardtalk program, Mr. Black agreed when host Stephen Sackur asked if he regretted renouncing his Canadian citizenship.
“Yes, and I’ve made amends for it,” Mr. Black said.
He insisted that he was not a criminal, arguing that courts in Canada or Britain wouldn’t have convicted him on the criminal counts he faced in the U.S.
And even assuming that he had broken the law, he said, “I’ve served three years in U.S. prison, so I’m not a criminal any more.”