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Grieving mother demands second inquest into daughter’s death following release of new evidence

A grieving mother is demanding a second inquest into the death of her nine-year-old daughter following the release of new evidence which reveals high pollution levels near her home.   

Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, a secondary school teacher from Lewisham, lodged a request with the attorney general last month.

She has already received 100,000 signatures in favour of her proposal in an online petition calling for further investigations into her daughter Ella’s death.  

The ‘active and happy’ schoolgirl who dreamed of becoming a pilot suffered from asthma and died from acute respiratory failure in February 2013 after years of coughing fits and seizures.

The cause of Ella’s asthma was never established but new research into her death shows her frequent hospital admissions coincided with spikes in illegal levels of air pollution around her home. 

Ella Kissi-Debrah (pictured) died in 2013 after becoming increasingly affected by air pollution near the house she lived in Lewisham

The asthmatic girl would walk to school near London's South Circular Road (pictured), which recorded illegal levels of air pollution shortly before her death

The asthmatic girl would walk to school near London’s South Circular Road (pictured), which recorded illegal levels of air pollution shortly before her death

Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, a clean air campaigner who stood as the Green Party candidate for Lewisham East in the June by-elections, said: ‘I’ll never forget the day we lost Ella.

‘It was in the early hours of the morning on the last day of term.

‘She had already picked out her outfit for the end of term disco.

‘But just a few hours later she suffered coughing fits followed by several seizures.

‘She was hospitalised and we lost her.

‘She never made it to the party.’

It appears that the days she needed to go to hospital were also days when air pollution near her home in Hither Green, south east London, was at illegal levels.  

Ella was born healthy but the family lived near a busy road and she developed asthma aged six.

Speaking on what would have been Ella’s 14th birthday, Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah said there was no information about the links between smog and asthma when her daughter was ill.

Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah said: ‘She was an active and happy child – cycling, skateboarding, playing football and excelling at swimming.

‘Then when she was six she developed asthma, and the frantic hospital visits began.’

Ella's mother Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah said she would have changed her daughter's (pictured) school had she known air pollution was causing asthmatic seizures

Ella’s mother Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah said she would have changed her daughter’s (pictured) school had she known air pollution was causing asthmatic seizures

A leading UK expert has also claimed there was a ‘striking association’ between Ella visiting hospital and recorded spikes in harmful air pollutants.   

Professor Stephen Holgate of University Hospital Southampton said there’s ‘real prospect that without unlawful levels of air pollution, Ella would not have died’.

‘Unlawful levels of air pollution contributed to the cause and seriousness of Ella’s asthma in a way that greatly compromised her quality of life and was causative of her fatal asthma attack,’ he declared in a report.  

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also wrote to Geoffrey Cox this month asking him to authorise a new inquest, whose decision will depend on whether there is new evidence and enough public interest on the issue.

Mr Cox has acknowledged receipt of Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah’s request, which she made on June 29, and has spoken to the coroner of the original request.

Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah said: ‘Ultimately it will be his decision.

‘If he says yes, it gets referred to the high court.

‘It is a long process.’

Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah is fighting for closure and justice for her daughter. An online petition on the website has now reached almost 100,000 signatures.

It has a target of 150,000.  

She added: ‘As her mother, I obviously want it reflected on her death certificate.

‘I want to know why my daughter passed away.

‘That is one thing, and I think that is the first thing.

‘No one of this is going to bring her back however if we get that, the Government will have to do something because they have a duty of care.

‘The first thing will be for her to get justice – that is number one.’

Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah hopes to hear back from the attorney general early next month.