THE FAMILY of a 14-year-old girl who killed herself after seeing suicide images on Instagram will not get legal aid for her inquest.
Molly Russell’s parents – who partly blame the social media giant for her death – were seeking money for legal fees for the upcoming case.
But the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) rejected their bid for funds, saying the probe into Molly’s tragic death in 2017 is “not of wider public interest”.
The decision came after the teenager’s sucide sparked an outcry against tech firms failing to protect young users.
Molly’s dad Ian Russell will now have to raise tens of thousands of pounds for legal fees or represent his daughter’s interests himself in the inquest.
Reacting to the LAA, he told the BBC: “Over 200 families every year in the UK go through what we’ve been through.
“Every one of those families will want to find out as much as possible and it seems to me that the world we live in, our country, our society, should help find out those questions because by doing so you could reduce those numbers and stop those nightmares.”
The setback came after Apple told Mr Russell it was unable to unlock her iPhone to let him search through it following her death.
Facebook – which owns Instagram – Pinterest, YouTube and Apple have been asked to hand over all relevant information by the coroner overseeing Molly’s case.
‘NOT OF PUBLIC INTEREST’
Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, said the case shows “how unreachable these big tech companies are”.
She added: “There’s a huge power imbalance, and you’ve got six major global companies here who have all the finance, technology, experts and the like against families and individuals who are trying to find some answers.”
A recent report by MPs said tech giants should be legally forced to sign up to a compulsory code of ethics and prosecuted if they flout it.
Sajid Javid has reportedly backed proposals for a social media regulator to clamp down on content involving sex abuse, self-harm and cyberbullying.
The likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat could face multi-million pound fines for failing to remove harmful material if the plans come into force.
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A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “This was a tragic case and our thoughts are with the family of Molly Russell.
“While our recent review of inquests found that legal representation is not necessary for the vast majority of cases, we are making a number of changes to the system to make it more accessible and supportive.
“This includes reviewing means-test requirements and simplifying the application process.”
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