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The Telegraph is reporting the details of the libel trial between Nathaniel Rothschild, an heir to the legendary banking empire and one of Britain’s wealthiest men, and The Daily Mail.Rothschild is suing the Daily Mail over a report in the paper that he arranged for Lord Mandelson, the former EU trade commissioner, to meet with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska to pave the way for a £500 million deal involving Deripaska’s aluminium smelter.
Rothschild has denied that the purpose of the trip, or Lord Mandelson’s presence, were business related. Instead, he says, that it was simply a social gathering.
Also present during the January 2005 trip according to The Telegraph were Peter Munk, founder and chairman of Canada’s Barrick Gold, and Sebastian Taylor, a friend of Rothschild.
Here are the details of the group’s sauna experience:
During the trip, the men were thrashed with bundles of birch twigs by a 25-year-old male banya keeper before jumping into ice water to improve circulation and cleanse the skin…
Mr Rothschild said: “The whole point of the Siberia trip was that we went there, spent a nanosecond at the [aluminium] smelter, we then went to the most delightful banya.
“We were beaten by a 25-year-old banya keeper man, who has spent his life perfecting the art of banya.
“Then we jumped into ice-cold water. It is the best way in the world to beat jet lag and everything else. It was incredibly enjoyable. Everyone woke up the next day feeling revitalized and excited about the day.”
Mr Justice Tugendhat, who is hearing the case without a jury, was told that Lord Mandelson flew to Russia on Mr Rothschild’s private jet after meeting him at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The Telegraph notes that is has been “alleged that Lord Mandelson’s presence was required to assure both parties that EU aluminium import tariffs would not rise in the near future.” Rothschild claims that he only invited Lord Mandelson because he was a friend and had expressed interest in visiting Siberia.
The trial is ongoing.