Mother demands action over child's asthma death and pollution


A mother is seeking an investigation to find out whether poor air quality in London contributed to daughter’s death from an asthma attack.

It comes as London mayor Sadiq Khan said new statistics show the need for more urgent action to tackle toxic air pollution in the capital.


Rosamund Kissi-Debrah is asking the attorney general either to order a second inquest into the death of her daughter Ella, who died in February 2013, or set up an independent inquiry.

Ms Kissi-Debrah and her lawyer, Jocelyn Cockburn, are also calling for action to reduce toxic air pollution. Ms Kissi-Debrah says other children are at risk.

Ms Cockburn told the Guardian: ‘There are strong grounds to believe that our government may be in breach of its duty to protect life in Ella’s case.’

She added: ‘What is striking is that the issue of air pollution has been overlooked both in the inquest and, so far as the family is aware, in the ongoing child death review into Ella’s death by Lewisham council.’

In a statement, Mr Khan said: ‘I would like to extend my condolences to Ella's friends and family. Her death is truly tragic.

'I am determined to get to grips with air quality - something that has not been a high enough priority until now. I was elected with a mandate to tackle London’s dangerously polluted air and make sure that breathing clean air is a right, not a privilege.’

Separately, City Hall said that statistics published as part of a wider study from the British Lung Foundation showed that people living in London’s most deprived boroughs are up to twice as likely to die of lung diseases as people who live in more affluent parts of the capital.

British Lung Foundation chief executive Dr Penny Woods said: ‘We know that air pollution can have a detrimental effect on the health of our most vulnerable citizens both today and tomorrow and could cause lasting damage.

‘We must all play a part in reducing harmful pollution. We are pleased to see that the mayor is taking action to reduce pollution in London.’

The British Lung Foundation, along with other groups including environmental lawyers ClientEarth, has also written to environment secretary Liz Truss accusing the Government of lobbying to weaken proposed air pollution limits.

Negotiations are taking place over a Europe-wide National Emissions Ceilings Directive, which will set how much of certain pollutants each country is allowed to emit.

ClientEarth, which is taking ministers back to court over its approach to toxic air pollution in the UK’s towns and cities said the Government ‘is also agitating for higher limits for key pollutants like ammonia in Brussels’.


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