Molly Russell: who was she - why has inquest been launched into her death, when will it start?

Coroner Andrew Walker said: ‘At the heart of every inquest lies a grieving family and that is something I have not forgotten’.

The inquest into the death of teenager Molly Russell has been delayed due to legal arguments.

The family of the 14-year-old who took her own life in 2017 have been waiting almost five years since her passing to get answers over her death. The inquest was due to begin on Tuesday 20 September, however it was delayed by the coroner.

The case has shone a light on the influence of social media on young people, after Molly was said to have viewed harmful posts in the time leading up to her suicide. Bosses from social media giants Meta and Pinterest are expected to take part in the proceedings.

Molly Russell’s family’s five-year wait for answers is set to end as an inquest will finally examine whether algorithms used by social media firms to keep users hooked contributed to her death.

Who was Molly Russell?

Molly Russell was a 14-year-old girl from Harrow, north London who took her own life in November 2017.

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, including content which “raised concerns”.

Her family, who have campaigned for better internet safety, have argued that the social media companies have employed the use of algorithms, which encouraged Molly to interact with these harmful posts on a regular basis.

Why has an inquest been launched?

An inquest was launched following previous hearings over the teenager’s death, in which it brought to light the influence of social media on Molly at the time. During the initial hearings, it was heard that Molly engaged with tens of thousands of social media posts in the six months leading up to her death.

Molly was an active user of social media sites Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, where she shared an interacted with many posts in the months before her death. She had tweeted or interacted with tweets aroud 4,500 times, while she had 15,000 engagements on her Pinterest account. She was also said to have accessed and engaged on her Instagram account around 130 times per day prior to her death.

The inquest was originally due to begin in March 2022. However, this was delayed due to the submission of evidence pertaining to Molly’s internet history.

When will the inquest begin?

Although the family of Molly have been waiting almost five years for the inquest to begin, the delay is a short one. The coroner confirmed that it is set to now begin on Wednesday 21 September.

The 24 hours delay was a result of legal arguments concerning the media’s access to certain documents. 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.

“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.”

Discussions will include participation from social media bosses, lawyers and Molly’s family. It is due to last around two weeks.

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