Bianca Rinehart has denied putting the legal action she is taking against her mother over the family's $5 billion trust ahead of her relationship with her younger sister, saying she and Hope are closer than ever.
Bianca, 37, her older brother John Hancock, 38, and their younger half-sister Hope Welker Rinehart took their mother, Gina Rinehart, to the Supreme Court in September 2011 over control of the trust, which was set up by their grandfather, the late iron ore magnate Lang Hancock.
Bianca has nominated herself as trustee in her mother's place and is supported by her brother.
Bianca Rinehart has nominated herself as trustee of the family's multibillion-dollar trust. Photo: James Alcock
The bitter dispute split the family, with youngest daughter Ginia, 27, opting to side with her mother, who wants an independent custodial trustee appointed.
After months of bitter court hearings, Hope settled with her mother and withdrew from the case in 2013.
Under gruelling cross-examination from Ginia's barrister Richard McHugh, SC, on Tuesday, Bianca said she understood Hope's decision.
Bianca Rinehart enters the NSW Supreme Court in Sydney. Photo: James Alcock
"Hope had gone through a divorce, this litigation has taken a toll on all of us," Bianca said.
"She was pretty much at her wits' end."
The court heard Hope sent John an email in February 2013 that said: "All I feel is pain and anxiety. You are kicking me in the stomach but I'm already on the floor. Nothing left to take."
Gina Rinehart stepped down as trustee following a public dispute. Photo: Bohdan Warchomij
Mr McHugh said that at some point Hope sent Bianca some legal documents but the next day asked her to delete them.
Bianca declined her request and gave the documents to her lawyers.
Mr McHugh accused her of putting the case before Hope's confidences.
"You thought it was more important to proceed with the litigation than Hope's request," he said.
Bianca said the documents suggested Hope's settlement with their mother was conditional on Hope siding with Mrs Rinehart and Ginia on their choice for the replacement trustee.
"I feel the appropriate thing to do at all times is to tell the truth and not to have the court mislead," she said.
"Hope and my relationship has never been stronger.
"I know that I have [Hope's] full support."
A copy of messages sent between Bianca and Hope using the WhatsApp messaging system was read in court.
They revealed that two days ago, Bianca said to Hope: "Just wanted to say I'm taking your little chunk of iron ore with the engraved turtle with me into court and will hold it in my hand as it gives me strength knowing that I'm doing this for you (and Gin of course too), just wanted you to know that."
Mr McHugh suggested that message was "completely self-serving and manipulative", which Bianca denied.
Bianca and John have nominated Bianca to replace their mother as trustee, saying if the trustee is not a lineal descendant of Mr Hancock snr, the joint venture between Hancock Prospecting and Rio Tinto to develop the giant iron ore mine Hope Downs could be jeopardised.
Their barrister, Christopher Withers, said any change to the joint venture would result in years of costly and complex litigation. Rio Tinto could take over Hancock Prospecting's share, and Hancock Prospecting could lose "its most valuable asset" at a cost of millions of dollars.
"Rio Tinto is highly likely to exercise those rights," Mr Withers said.
The "damage will be irreparable".
Earlier on Tuesday, the court heard that Bianca's history of standing up to her mining magnate mother Gina shows she is "more than up to the task" of running the trust.
Bianca, the eldest daughter of Mrs Rinehart, has endured "threats and intimidation" since launching legal action against her mother in September 2011 over control of the trust, said her barrister, Mr Withers.
"Anybody who can stand up to that kind of conduct ... has got the strength of character to do this job," Mr Withers said.
He also said Bianca had been accused of acting dishonestly and copying sensitive company documents, all of which was an attempt to intimidate her.
"These are the kinds of things that have been said against her in this litigation," he said.
The hearing continues.
The hearing continues.