David Radler harbours no bitterness toward his former business partner Conrad Black, and he plans to write a "business primer" on how they built the Hollinger newspaper empire together.
"Life goes on," Mr. Radler said yesterday from his office in Vancouver. "Look, I remember the good times, not the bad."
When asked what he will say about Lord Black in the book, Mr. Radler replied: "All positive things. Why would I say anything negative?"
Mr. Radler spoke publicly for the first time since being released from jail last Friday night. He was granted full parole after serving 10 months of a 29-month prison term for fraud.
Yesterday morning he was back running his business, Alberta Newspaper Group, but he stopped briefly to talk about life behind bars, where he learned some Chinese, and his plans for the future. "I'll get back to doing what I do best, which is to work," he said. "I have no desire for any profile. I will do the book and that will be it."
Mr. Radler and Lord Black spent more than 35 years together building a global newspaper chain. Starting with the Sherbrooke Record, which they bought in 1969 for $18,000 and sold in 1977 for $865,000, Mr. Radler and Lord Black bought hundreds of papers in Canada, the United States, Britain and Israel. Lord Black was always the public face of the company, while Mr. Radler worked behind the scenes managing operations with fierce attention to detail.
Their relationship soured in 2004, shortly after fraud allegations surfaced at the Hollinger group, which was run primarily out of Chicago.
Mr. Radler negotiated a plea bargain and testified as the star prosecution witness against Lord Black and three other former Hollinger executives during their trial in Chicago. He faced blistering questioning from defence lawyers who repeatedly called him a liar and said he would say anything to protect himself. All four were convicted, and Lord Black received a 6½-year sentence for fraud and obstruction of justice.
Yesterday, Mr. Radler brushed aside the personal attacks and said he won't dwell on the trial in his book. "I'm going to try to stay away from those [allegations]" he said. "I think too much has been written about that. ... I think what perhaps is more useful and more interesting is the process, at least the business process, of building up the company."
The book will be "mainly about my career," he added. "There's going to be no bitterness in it. There's going to be no prison nonsense in it."
Mr. Radler began serving his sentence last February at Moshannon Valley Correctional Facility, a privately run prison in Pennsylvania. The prison was exclusively for foreigners, and most were inside for drug offences, he said.
Mr. Radler said he had no problems with inmates and even taught a popular business course. He also took classes in Chinese, Spanish, immigration law and commercial law. The availability of courses "made it a more interesting atmosphere," he said.
Just before being transferred to Canada in September, Mr. Radler was sent to a prison near Lake Placid, N.Y., which had previously served as the athletes village for the 1980 Olympic Games. "It was a gorgeous spot," he said. "To me the greatest freedom [at that prison]was to be outdoors."
Mr. Radler was sent briefly to a prison in Quebec before moving on to a holding facility in Abbotsford, B.C. He spent his final few weeks at the Ferndale Institution in Mission, B.C., once known as Club Fed because of its tennis courts and organic farm.
Prison life was "very difficult in Canada, in the States it was not," he said, calling U.S. facilities much better managed.
While in the B.C. prisons, he received a day pass to attend the wedding of his daughter, Melanie, who runs his U.S. newspaper operations.
Mr. Radler declined to discuss the details of his business holdings, but court filings indicate that Alberta Newspaper Group and another company, Horizon Publications, own dozens of small papers in North America, many of which were bought from Hollinger. Lord Black was once a co-owner of Horizon with Mr. Radler but sold his stake in 2006.
Although he received full parole, Mr. Radler must report regularly to a parole officer, and he can't travel very far without alerting parole officials. He is also banned from travelling to the U.S.
"I'm happy to be out," he said. "I'm happy to be back home. I'm trying to do the things that I was doing before."
Asked what he first did after being released, he said: "I bought a bagel. There were
no good ones inside."