Gina Rinehart's two youngest children were accused yesterday of being locked in a deal with their mother that could have made them her puppets in the family's long-running court case.
The NSW Supreme Court was told that Ginia Rinehart and Hope Welker, who have sided with the mining magnate, are believed to have signed agreements which ban them from supporting any attempt to remove her as head of the family trust or back any replacement without her consent.
Both daughters are represented as separate parties in the long-running case but Justice Paul Brereton said yesterday that if such an agreement did exist, it would affect how he viewed their wishes over the future of the multibillion dollar trust at the centre of the battle.
Bianca Rinehart's lawyer, Christopher Withers, said his 36-year-old client had been contacted late last year by her mother's bodyguard Kevin Withers with an offer of a $25 million loan to withdraw from the case. As part of the deal, she would have had to agree not to be involved in any litigation against her mother, or any attempts to replace her as head of the trust "with anyone Gina Rinehart doesn't approve of", Mr Withers said. Bianca refused to sign.
He said Hope, who launched the court action against her mother alongside John Hancock and Bianca but switched sides late last year, is known to have received a similar draft deed.
If she is bound by it, she would not be "permitted to express a view without the approval of Gina Rinehart".
A Supreme Court hearing into the trust's future ended last month, with Justice Brereton asking all parties to agree on a suitable replacement for Mrs Rinehart, who stepped down as trustee days before the trial into her fitness to hold the role was due to begin.
Both sides of the family feud are deadlocked over her replacement and the long-running court battle - which began two years ago - will now continue into the new year.
Yesterday, lawyers for Mrs Rinehart and her children sought access to a range of documents that would point to any potential "animus" or agenda involving the potential replacements that each side had put forward.
Justice Brereton granted Ginia's lawyers permission to subpoena prominent WA businessman John Poynton and former Law Society of WA and WA Motor Trade Association chief Peter Fitzpatrick over the drafting of affidavits they had written in support of Bianca's nomination as a potential trustee.