Rinehart loses costs case against Adele Ferguson

By Sarah Danckert, The Age

A company owned by Australia's richest woman will have to pay the costs of a journalist who the billionaire tried to force into revealing her sources for a book about the family.

The Supreme Court of Western Australia on Friday dismissed Hancock Prospecting attempt to not pay the costs awarded against the company in a long-running battle with Fairfax Media's award-winning journalist Adele Ferguson.

Mrs Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting took action against Ms Ferguson and Fairfax Media in 2013 demanding she hand over emails, text messages, notebooks and any other material she had regarding conversations with Mrs Rinehart's son, John Hancock.

It was claimed the material was needed for a private arbitration hearing between Mrs Rinehart and her son in Sydney.

In 2012 Ms Ferguson wrote an unauthorised biography of Mrs Rinehart that laid bare the criminal history of her former husband, the raging feuds with her adult children over the family empire and her tempestuous relationship with her beloved father.

The battle for was lost in 2014 when Hancock Prospecting's demand set aside by consent ahead of a full hearing.

Hancock Prospecting was ordered to pay the costs of Ms Ferguson and her employer Fairfax Media, which is also the publisher of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

However, in 2015 Hancock Prospecting sought a stay of the costs order.

Mrs Rinehart's company had argued it should not have to pay Ms Ferguson's costs because those costs would be covered by Fairfax.

Justice Pritchard found that there was no explicit agreement between Ms Ferguson and Fairfax Media's lawyer, Minter Ellison, that it would cover her costs.

"Hancock Prospecting has failed to establish that Ms Ferguson was not liable to pay the legal fees," Justice Pritchard said.

Hancock Prospecting has been contacted for comment.


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