Attorney General backs mother over girl's pollution-linked death

11/01/2019
Chris Ames

The Attorney General has cleared the way for a new inquest in the case of a nine-year-old girl whose death has been linked to illegal levels of air pollution.

Ella Kissi-Debrah (pictured), who lived 25 metres from the South Circular Road in London, died in 2013 after three years of seizures and 27 visits to hospital for asthma attacks.

An inquest in September 2014 concluded Ella’s death was caused by acute respiratory failure and severe asthma.

Although that inquest did not consider the impact of air pollution on her death, last year an expert linked it to dangerously high levels of pollution that breached legal limits.

Following a campaign by Ella’s mother, Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, attorney general Geoffrey Cox has allowed her to apply to the High Court to quash the first inquest and have a new one heard.

An application will now be lodged and a High Court judge will decide whether a new inquest will take place.

Mr Cox said: ‘I have received several representations about Ella’s case, and acknowledge the wider interest that has been taken in it. However, I must assess the application based only on the facts of the case, and on whether there is enough new evidence available to merit reopening the inquest process.

‘I have concluded that there is new evidence which may alter the substantial truth of Ella’s death.’

Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah said: ‘Words cannot express how happy I am that the attorney general has taken this decision and I would like to thank him for reaching his conclusion. Nothing will bring my beautiful, bright, bubbly child back, but now at least I may get answers about how she died and whether it was air pollution, which snatched her away from us.

‘Now I hope a new inquest will make those in power realise that our children are dying as a result of the air that they breathe. This cannot go on. Why is this not being taken more seriously by the Government? What do we need to do, to make them prioritise our children’s lives over convenience and the rights of people to pollute?’

Jocelyn Cockburn, partner at Hodge Jones & Allen, who represents Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, said: ‘Air pollution is costing people’s lives and those most vulnerable are children. There is a need for more urgency into how air pollution is dealt with in urban areas to bring it within lawful limits as soon as possible.’

 

 

 

 

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