Calls for new inquest into ‘air pollution’ death

Rosamund Kissi-Debrah Pic: Chloe Collins

Rosamund Kissi-Debrah’s nine-year-old daughter Ella died of a fatal asthma attack in 2013.

However, after new evidence emerged on air pollution, Kissi-Debrah has been granted the right to ask the High Court to order a new inquest into Ella’s death by attorney general Geoffrey Cox.

Ella lived less than 30 yards (25 metres) from the busy South Circular Road in Lewisham. Lewisham is one of the areas in London with the highest levels of air pollution.

Ella was admitted to the hospital 27 times over three years. Many of those visits corresponded with recorded peaks in air pollution.

Kissi-Debrah is now raising money to cover legal fees for her case to the High Court.

The Ella Roberta Family Foundation has already raised £28,145 from 1,148 donators. Kissi-Debrah’s target is to reach £30,000 with 22 days to remaining.

According to research by Unicef UK, one in three children in the UK breathes in harmful levels of air pollution every day.

Last year the government’s Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants estimated that up to 36,000 people die in the UK annually as a result of air pollution.

The government is taking action to tackle air pollution by launching Low Emission Zones and the Clean Air Strategy. Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “The evidence is clear. While air quality has improved significantly in recent years, air pollution continues to shorten lives, harm our children and reduce quality of life.”

For Kissi-Debrah, her campaign is not just for Ella but for all children.

She said: “If every year, between 8 and 12 children are dying in London, and 50% of air pollution is from public transport, it needs to be more efficient, more reliable and it needs to be cleaner.

“The government should subsidise public transport to make it cheaper, so the average person can take it. It’s a sin that young people are having to literally choke themselves through life. I think it’s shocking”.

The High Court has the final say on whether a new inquest will be granted, however it is extremely rare for the court to disagree with the attorney general.

Rosamund Kissi-Debrah remains hopeful.

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