When nine year old Ella Adoo Kissi-Debrah died of seizures caused by an asthma attack on 15 February, the coroner applied the normal rules and examined the period from when the attack started to when she died.
However, the normal rules are now being challenged by new evidence from Professor Holgate, a consultant respiratory physician, who claims that unlawful levels of air pollution led to the fatal asthma attack. The legal team of Ella’s mother, Rosamund Adoo Kissi-Debrah, have asked the Attorney General if they can appeal the decision to the High Court and launch a challenge which would widen the scope of what coroners consider by looking at the causes of deaths linked to air pollution.
If this legal challenge is successful then many others could follow as the substantial weight of medical studies into air pollution and fatalities is used to support the actions of grieving relatives. It will also change the nature of the political debate as these individual cases are linked to the successful court actions by Client Earth, who have defeated the government three times in court over the inadequacy of the government air pollution strategy.
My own Clean Air Bill was introduced to Parliament on 5 July, on the 62nd anniversary of the original Clean Air Act. This Bill would establish clean air as a human right and set up a Citizens Commission to help people like Rosamund take on the corporations and government agencies who are responsible for illegal air.