Banker loses libel case over Mandelson link

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Banker Nathaniel Rothschild yesterday lost his bid to win substantial libel damages over a Daily Mail story which he said portrayed him as a “puppet-master” who brought together Lord Mandelson and Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

The 40-year-old Swiss-based financier immediately said he would appeal, after Mr Justice Tugendhat ruled that Associated Newspapers had established that the meaning of the May 2010 story was substantially true, despite admitted inaccuracies.

The newspaper’s case was that Mr Rothschild took Lord Mandelson, then European Commissioner for Trade, on a January 2005 trip to Siberia in order to impress Mr Deripaska, when he knew, or ought to have known, that if anyone found out about it, Lord Mandelson would have been compromised.

It was also said there were grounds for believing that Lord Mandelson discussed aluminium tariffs with Mr Deripaska and Mr Rothschild encouraged the inappropriate relationship.

The judge, who heard the action at London’s High Court without a jury, said he accepted the newspaper’s submission that Mr Rothschild’s conduct was inappropriate in a number of respects.

He said: “In my judgment, that conduct foreseeably brought Lord Mandelson’s public office and personal integrity into disrepute.”