01 February 2012

Amy Dale, The Daily Telegraph, February 29, 2012 12:00AM

AUSTRALIA'S richest person, Gina Rinehart, continues to claim exposing details of her family trust battle places her and her family in danger - but a court has been told detailed security reports found no "specific threat".

Less than two weeks before the High Court considers discharging a suppression order on details of the family trust battle, lawyers for the iron ore magnate yesterday returned to the Supreme Court to argue for a different order because of Mrs Rinehart's fears for her safety.

One report, written by risk assessment specialist Anthony Moorhouse, said Mrs Rinehart would need to increase security measures if the details of the family trust battle were exposed.

"This will undoubtedly cause not only a financial but lifestyle burden to the family," the affidavit said.

A briefing by Mrs Rinehart's lawyers to the security experts used the 1960 kidnapping and murder of Sydney schoolboy Graeme Thorne, after his father's lottery win was published in the newspaper, as an example of the link between media reporting, wealth and crime.

"It is this type of connection that seems to us to be relevant to the present application," the briefing said.

Three of Mrs Rinehart's children - John, Bianca and Hope - have taken legal action to have her removed as head of the family trust, said to contain "no small part" of the family's immense wealth.

Her youngest daughter Ginia is the only one to side with her in the proceedings.

Hope and Bianca have expressed fears for their safety as publicity about their mother's wealth increased.

"I don't think you understand what it means now the whole world thinks you're going to be wealthier than Bill Gates," Hope Welker wrote in an email to her mother.

The court was handed a letter written from Mrs Rinehart's solicitor Paul McCann to the lawyers acting for John, Hope and Bianca indicating their "ransom insurance" would be withdrawn if they didn't side with their mother in the dispute.

The three children have not agreed to support the suppression order bid, being heard by Justice Michael Ball.

Mr Moorhouse's report admits there was "to date no specific threats to Mrs Rinehart or her family".

"[But] she believes, with the heightened interest in her wealth, the lifting of the suppression order and the reporting of the proceedings and the link to that wealth, that it is realistic for her to hold fears for herself, her children," it said.

Security expert Justin Bowden said New York-based Hope Welker - who wrote her mother an email last year saying she was down to her last $60,000 and needed a cook, housekeeper and bodyguard for her birthday - would be at most risk of harm.

"Kidnappers tend to be amateurs, the odds are greater they will be caught so they are more eager to silence their victims," his report said.

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