The family of a young girl whose death was linked to unlawful levels of air pollution have been granted a second inquest.
Ella Kissi-Debrah, 9, died in February 2013 after three years of seizures and 27 visits to hospital for asthma attacks.
She lived just 25 metres from the South Circular Road in Lewisham – one of the busiest roads in London.
The first inquest in 2014 concluded that Ella’s cause of death was acute respiratory failure caused by a severe asthma attack.
But lawyers have argued her original inquest did not investigate the potential impact of air pollution and an expert report by Professor Stephen Holgate found it was likely unlawful levels of air pollution contributed to Ella’s fatal asthma attack.
The report, obtained in April 2018, said air pollution levels at the Catford monitoring station one mile from Ella’s home ‘consistently’ exceeded lawful EU limits over the three years prior to her death.
Professor Holgate, a leading expert in asthma and air pollution, found a ‘striking association’ between Ella’s hospital admissions and air pollution episodes.
He concluded there was ‘a real prospect that without unlawful levels of air pollution Ella would not have died’.
The Attorney General said: ‘I have concluded that there is new evidence which may alter the substantial truth of Ella’s death.
‘I am therefore able to give my permission for an application to the High Court to request a new inquest, based on the evidential test being met.’
An application will now be lodged and a judge will decide if a new inquest will take place.
If the family’s request is granted, Ella may become the first person in the UK for whom air pollution is listed as the cause of death.
Ella’s mother Rosamund 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?’