South Circular air pollution: Crowdfund for new Ella inquest hearing hits £25,000 target

Ella Kissi-Debrah
Ella Kissi-Debrah died aged nine in 2013. She lived close to the South Circular between Hither Green and Catford

A crowdfunding campaign to raise £25,000 for a High Court hearing into the death of a nine-year-old asthmatic girl who lived next to the polluted South Circular Road at Hither Green has hit its target.

The success means Rosamund Kissi-Debrah will be able to make a case to the High Court to grant a new inquest into her daughter’s Ella death in 2013.

Kissi-Debrah was given permission to apply for a new inquest into Ella’s death after she delivered a 100,000-signature petition to attorney general Geoffrey Cox calling. It came as research showed showed Ella’s frequent hospital admissions coincided with spikes in illegal levels of air pollution around her home, 25 metres from the A205 at Brownhill Road, Catford.

Her lawyers say the original inquest, held in 2014, did not investigate the potential impact of air pollution, with the cause of Ella’s asthma never established.

Ella’s mother said she was “exhausted” after hitting the £25k mark but was full of thanks to the 1,093 people who had donated, many giving £5 or £10. It showed the cause was meaningful to a many people who had contributed what they could, she said.

Further donations are welcome and will go towards legal costs which are expected to be more than £25,000, she said.

But finding answers and pushing politicians to consider the effects of air pollution weighed heavily on her shoulders, she said.

South Circular Road
The South Circular Road through Catford and Hither Green is notorious for heavy traffic

Kissi-Debrah – who is also standing for the London Assembly next year for the Green Party in Greenwich and Lewisham – said: “But who else was going to do this? Who else is able to communicate this? 15th February is the anniversary of her death, and before that we had her birthday so we know her anniversary is coming up.

“It was good to hit the target, but the anniversary always hangs heavy, it is a heavy day we dread.”

Ella died in February 2013 from acute respiratory failure after years of coughing fits and seizures, and 27 visits to hospital.

A 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.

Lawyers will make their case to the High Court before 18 February, asking that the original inquest is quashed on the basis of new evidence, she said.
But for the moment Kissi-Debrah is “praying what happened to Ella doesn’t happen to other children” and hopes Ella’s story is spread far and wide to spread awareness of the effects of air pollution.

“Lewisham has the second highest rate of admissions for asthma [in London] only beaten by Croydon,” she said.

“We need to see action.”

You can donate to the crowdfunder at http://www.crowdjustice.com/case/airpollution/.


LDRS logoBridie Witton is the Local Democracy Reporter for Lewisham. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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