Russell family lawyer says after landmark ruling some inquests not done properly

Merry Varney, from Leigh Day solicitors, said not all bereaved relatives have had the chance to seek answers.

30 September 2022

The lawyer for Molly Russell’s family said some past inquests were not “done properly”.

Speaking after a landmark ruling in which a coroner ruled social media contributed to 14-year-old Molly’s death, Merry Varney from Leigh Day solicitors said not all bereaved relatives have had the chance to seek answers.

In the ruling, delivered at North London Coroner’s Court on Friday and described as the first of its kind, senior coroner Andrew Walker said the schoolgirl died while suffering the “negative effects of online content”.

At a press conference in Barnet afterwards, Ms Varney said: “I mentioned that this was a coroner’s investigation done properly. Not all coroner’s investigations are done properly and not all bereaved families have the chance to seek answers.

“When you say, ‘Is this going to happen again and will this change things?’ I hope so.

“I hope other coroners, other lawyers, other families understand what can be achieved and should be achieved when you’re looking at how somebody came about their death.”

She said she hopes Instagram owner Meta, one of the interested parties in the case, follows through after offering to meet with the Molly Rose Foundation and that bosses “listen very carefully and have some humility”.

Andy Burrows, head of child safety online policy at the NSPCC, said tech giants “allowed” and even “encouraged” Molly to view the material that contributed to her death.

The way platforms such as Instagram operated – through the use of algorithms – often resulted in the youngster being exposed to content she had not requested to see, the coroner found.

Mr Burrows said: “This is social media’s big tobacco moment. For the first time globally, it has been ruled content a child was allowed and even encouraged to see by tech companies contributed to their death.

“The world will be watching their response.”

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