FLASHBACK: Rothschild Loses Libel Case, And Reveals Secret World Of Money And Politics

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With his long limbs and delicate gait, Lord Mandelson could no doubt manage a quite convincing turn in Thunderbirds.

He’d find Jeff Tracy most convivial: a billionaire astronaut with his own Pacific island, and now, it seems, he even has his own camera-shy friend to pull the strings.

According to the High Court, Nathaniel Rothschild, scion of the banking dynasty and friend of seemingly everyone in the spheres of finance, business and politics, is indeed “puppet master” to the Baron of Hartlepool and Foy.

The banker and Bullingdon boy has lost his libel case against the Daily Mail, which he sued for “substantial damages” over its account of his and Mr Mandelson’s extraordinary trip to Russia in January 2005.

Mr Rothschild claimed he was subjected to “sustained and unjustified” attacks in the May 2010 article, which portrayed him as a “puppet master”, dangling his friend Lord Mandelson in front of the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to ease the passage of colossal business deals.

Messrs Rothschild and Mandelson’s Russian trip would certainly have made entertaining viewing, but maybe not for Thunderbirds fans. Nobody needed rescuing, that’s for certain.

It began on Mr Rothschild’s private jet from the World Economic Forum in Davos to Moscow, where they met Mr Deripaska, the aluminium plant manager who became the richest oligarch of them all, and continued on Mr Deripaska’s private jet to his chalet in Siberia, where “to beat jet lag” they were whipped with birch leaves before plunging themselves into icy water – a traditional Siberian banya.

Less salacious, but seemingly more sordid, was an earlier dinner at Cantinetta Antinori, a fashionable Tuscan restaurant in Moscow. Mr Deripaska, the Mail had claimed, was dining with executives from the US aluminium giant Alcoa, negotiating a £250m deal to buy two of Mr Deripaska’s aluminium plants, at which a stumbling block was an EU import tariff on Russian aluminium. Enter Lord Mandelson, then a lowly Mister, but at the time the EU Trade Commissioner. The deal is done, costing several hundred British jobs, and the tariffs come down.

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