A new inquest will be held into the death of a nine-year-old girl, who suffered a fatal asthma attack thought to be linked to air pollution.
Ella Kissi-Debrah died in 2013 after three years of seizures and had made 27 visits to hospital for her asthma attacks.
Judges at the High Court ruled a 2014 inquest into her death should be quashed and a fresh hearing should be held, after new evidence about air pollution levels near her south London home came to light.
Ella lived 25 metres from the busy South Circular road in Lewisham and a report last year said it was likely that illegal levels of pollution contributed to her fatal asthma attack.
The report by Professor Stephen Holgate, a leading expert in asthma and air pollution, said pollution levels at a monitoring station one mile from Ella’s home “consistently” exceeded EU limits over the three months before her death.
Judge Mark Lucraft QC said: “In our judgment, the discovery of new evidence makes it necessary in the interests of justice that a fresh inquest be held.”
The judges also said the new evidence shows there was an arguable failure by the state to comply with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to life.
Ella may become the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as their cause of death.
Speaking to Sky News, her mother, Rosamund Kissi-Debrah said: “I wasn’t sure until the last line which way it was going to go and it could have gone either way.
“I’m overwhelmed, and a massive thank you to everybody… it means everything.
“We can get to the bottom now of why Ella really died and why she suffered so much – it’s very very important to us as a family to understand that.”
She added: “Three comas is what I think of first, sitting by her bedside and literally praying for her to come round and wake up.
“It’s not going to bring her back, but as a mother I wouldn’t want any other family to go through this… it’s really, really important to so many people because now since her death we’ve found air pollution is linked to so many things.”
The family’s lawyer, Jocelyn Cockburn told Sky News: “We know that there are illegal levels of pollution and the government has managed over the last decade to put forward plans which are inadequate in tackling it.
“And so this case is the first case that puts a child’s picture and name in association with that air pollution.
“It costs actual lives, it’s not just statistics.”
She added: “It’s the government’s responsibility to investigate the impact of air pollution on health and we are now asking them to step up to that task.”