Fam­ily win fight for ‘pol­lu­tion death’ girl

New in­quest af­ter Ella, 9, suf­fered fa­tal cough­ing fit

Daily Mail - - Life - By Colin Fer­nan­dez En­vi­ron­ment Correspond­ent

A FAM­ILY who say their daugh­ter was killed by il­le­gal lev­els of air pol­lu­tion from a busy road have won a new in­quest.

When asthma suf­ferer Ella Kissi-De­brah, nine, suf­fered a fa­tal cough­ing fit a coro­ner ruled that the cause of death was ‘res­pi­ra­tory fail­ure’.

But Ella’s mother re­fused to ac­cept this as the rea­son why her ‘bub­bly, healthy, ac­tive and happy’ girl died, and she went on to find that pol­lu­tion near their home was un­law­fully high.

Now the High Court has cleared the way for a sec­ond in­quest which would make le­gal his­tory if Ella’s cause of death is given as toxic air pol­lu­tion. Al­though the prob­lem is said to cause 40-50,000 UK deaths each year, it has never been recorded on a death cer­tifi­cate.

Ella, who died in 2013 af­ter three years of seizures and 27 hos­pi­tal vis­its, lived 80ft from the fume-choked A205 South Cir­cu­lar road in Hither Green, south­east Lon­don. Af­ter read­ing of her death, Pro­fes­sor Stephen Hol­gate of Southamp­ton Uni­ver­sity found that pol­lu­tion lev­els at a lo­cal mon­i­tor­ing sta­tion con­sis­tently broke EU lim­its for three years be­fore.

Lev­els of ni­tro­gen diox­ide and ozone, both asthma trig­gers, were par­tic­u­larly high.

Judge Mark Lu­craft QC said yes­ter­day: ‘The dis­cov­ery of new ev­i­dence makes it nec­es­sary in the in­ter­ests of jus­tice that a fresh in­quest be held.’

Ella’s mother, Rosamund Kissi-De­brah, said: ‘I am ab­so­lutely de­lighted by to­day’s rul­ing and look for­ward to fi­nally get­ting the truth about Ella’s death. The past six years of not know­ing why my beau­ti­ful, bright and bub­bly daugh­ter died has been dif­fi­cult but I hope the new in­quest will an­swer whether air pol­lu­tion took her away from us.

‘If it is proved that pol­lu­tion killed Ella then the Govern­ment will be forced to sit up and take no­tice that this hid­den but deadly killer is cut­ting short our chil­dren’s lives.’

Mrs Kissi-De­brah, who has two other chil­dren, raised £28,000 to pay le­gal fees and wrote in her funds ap­peal: ‘Ella was a bub­bly, healthy, ac­tive and happy child. She loved cy­cling, skate­board­ing, play­ing foot­ball and won many cer­tifi­cates for her swim­ming. She dreamt of be­com­ing a pi­lot.’

Her lawyer Jo­ce­lyn Cock­burn said of­fi­cials would now have to say why they ig­nored ‘over­whelm­ing ev­i­dence’ about the health im­pact of air pol­lu­tion.

Lon­don mayor Sadiq Khan wel­comed the court rul­ing as ‘recog­nis­ing the scale of the air pol­lu­tion health crisis’.

Ella: Suf­fered from asthma

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