The inquest into the death of 15 year old Frances (Frankie) Thomas concluded yesterday with the Coroner ruling her death a suicide. She took her life in 2018 and had viewed online content about suicide and self-harm at school in the months leading up to her death. Her family has requested the school monitor her online content to ensure she couldn’t access harmful material. However, the school’s filtering system did not work on iPads and was not working at the time. The Coroner ruled that the school’s serious failings in e-safety contributed to Frankie’s death, and that Frankie’s right to life under Article 2 ECHR was engaged. The Coroner also found that Wattpad, the site which had hosted suicide stories read by Frankie on the day of her death, did not have sufficiently robust moderation systems to protect its under-17 users.
In addition to the ruling, the Coroner highlighted the need for stronger rules for schools from the Department for Education rather than the current ambiguous guidance. A prevention of future death report will be sent asking for further action to shield pupils from harmful online content at school.
The family were represented by Jessica Elliott, instructed by Merry Varney of Leigh Day.
Leigh Day press release is available here and featured in the media:
- Channel 4 News (aired 7pm 6/10/21)
- The Times (paywall)