The family of a nine-year-old girl who died from asthma has been given permission to apply for a fresh inquest into her death.
It comes after the government’s chief lawyer heard new evidence her death could be linked to unlawful levels of air pollution.
Ella Kissi-Debrah lived close to one of London’s busiest roads.
Her mother said she wanted to get to the bottom of the health impact of air pollution on young people.
Lawyers acting for the family said it was a “hugely important” step.
Air pollution has never previously been officially recorded on an individual’s death certificate.
In August, Ella’s mother, Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, delivered a 100,000-signature petition to Attorney General Geoffrey Cox calling for a new inquest into her daughter’s death.
He 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.”
‘The right decision’
Ella lived in Lewisham, south London, 25m (80ft) from the South Circular road – a notorious pollution “hotspot”.
She died in February 2013 after experiencing three years of seizures.
During that time, local air pollution levels regularly breached EU legal limits. Her last fatal seizure happened during a spike in air pollution levels.
An inquest in 2014 found she had died of acute respiratory failure and severe asthma.
However, the attorney general’s decision has now paved the way for a new inquest to determine whether “unlawfully high levels of air pollution” were partially the cause of her death.
Mrs Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, a teacher, said: “It’s great, it’s the right decision and now we can get to the bottom, really, of the health impact of air pollution on young people.”Hopefully if we are successful, national government, local government and individuals have to do something about cleaning up the air. It is unacceptable that children in Britain today die from asthma.”
‘Suddenly got ill’
She told the WATO programme on Radio 4: “In two weeks time, Ella would have been 15 years old. This is not going to bring her back, but it will allow us to make sense of why a child who was extremely healthy suddenly got so ill, and focus awareness on what is now a public health crisis.
“This affects all of us, old and young. We need serious measures to clean up the air like diesel scrappage, better public transport and more cycle lanes,” Ella’s mother said.