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Molly Russell’s father heads to inquest after five-year wait for answers


A coroner has insisted that he has not forgotten about the grieving family of Molly Russell, as the long-awaited inquest into the death of the schoolgirl has been delayed by legal argument. 

The inquest into the 14-year-old’s death was due to begin at North London Coroner’s Court in Barnet, North London on Tuesday – almost five years after she ended her life. 

The inquest has been delayed again on Tuesday, after previously being delayed when thousands of pages of news evidence about the schoolgirl’s internet history were submitted. 

The dragging out of the inquest has meant that her grieving family has been suffering an agonisingly long wait for answers over the role that social media played in her suicide.   

Molly Russell's father, Ian, (left) and her sister (right) arrive at her inquest in north London on Tuesday

Molly Russell’s father, Ian, (left) and her sister (right) arrive at her inquest in north London on Tuesday

Previous hearings have heard how the 14-year-old had engaged with tens of thousands of social media posts in the six months before she died.

Coroner Andrew Walker raised concerns that the publishing of certain social media posts accessed by the teenager before her death could have a negative effect on their original author. 

‘It’s that one issue of ensuring that if there is material, that might affect the author… we deal with it in a sensitive way,’ he said. 

Addressing the delays at the end of the day’s hearing, the coroner said: ‘It’s very difficult for the family in inquests such as this where there are many legal matters to discuss.

Molly, from Harrow, north-west London, is known to have viewed material linked to anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide before ending her life in November 2017

Molly, from Harrow, north-west London, is known to have viewed material linked to anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide before ending her life in November 2017

‘At the heart of every inquest lies a grieving family and that is something I have not forgotten despite all the work that has been done by counsel today to try and move this case further forward.’

The court previously heard how on Twitter, Molly tweeted or retweeted 460 times, liked 4,100 tweets, was following 116 accounts and had 42 followers.

Molly did not have a Facebook profile, but she was a much more active user of Pinterest, with more than 15,000 engagements, including 3,000 saves, in the last six months of her life.

But in the last six months of her life, she was engaging with Instagram posts about 130 times a day on average.

This included 3,500 shares during that time, as well as 11,000 likes and 5,000 saves.

 The courtroom, which sits 30 people, was filled to capacity, with Molly’s relatives, including her father, Ian, mother, Janet and her sister, alongside a packed press bench and lawyers representing Pinterest, Meta, and the family. 

Coroner Andrew Walker at North London Coroner’s Court said at the start of the hearing: ‘I will begin by offering my deepest sympathies to the family who have attended here today.’

Molly, from Harrow, is known to have viewed material linked to anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide before ending her life in November 2017, prompting her family to campaign for better internet safety.

Previous hearings have heard how the schoolgirl had engaged with tens of thousands of social media posts in the six months before she died, including content which ‘raised concerns’.

Senior employees from social media giants Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, and Pinterest, are due to give evidence in person at the inquest. 

Mr Walker previously challenged social media companies to ‘help make the internet a safer place’, before adding ‘the earlier the parties turn their minds to that matter, the better solutions we may have in due course’.

A pre-inquest review in September 2020 heard how a huge volume of ‘pretty dreadful’ Instagram posts had been disclosed to the investigation.

Since his daughter’s death, Ian Russell has been a vocal campaigner for reform of social media platforms, and set up the Molly Rose Foundation in her memory.

Discussions between lawyers representing Molly’s relatives, social media giants Meta and Pinterest, and the media are due to resume on Wednesday. 

For free, confidential support contact Samaritans on 116 123 or visit their website 



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