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20 April 2022

Mother bereaved by air pollution waits to meet Boris Johnson after nearly a year

Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah wanted to know lessons would be learned from the death of her daughter, Ella.

By Anoosh Chakelian

Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, whose nine-year-old daughter died of air pollution, has revealed that Boris Johnson has yet to meet her.

Since her daughter Ella died in 2013, Adoo-Kissi-Debrah has become a campaigner for cleaner air in London to protect children from pollution. Before the Queen’s Speech last year, on 5 May 2021, she wrote to the Prime Minister asking for him to meet her “to reassure me of your commitment to tackling the public health emergency that is air pollution and to learn the lessons from Ella’s death”.

Nearly a year later, on the anniversary of the landmark coroner’s report that made Ella the first person in the UK to have air pollution cited on her death certificate, she has not had her request granted.

“The Prime Minister still hasn’t met me,” she reveals on the New Statesman’s Westminster Reimagined podcast, a special series with the satirist Armando Iannucci about how politics could be improved. In a wide-ranging conversation about influencing policy from the grass roots, she opened up about the barriers she had encountered within government to making change.

Johnson — who represents a London constituency (Uxbridge) not far from the north circular, and was Mayor of London from 2008 to 2016 — did respond in June, in a letter that expressed his condolences, but no meeting has yet been arranged. No 10 did not comment.

The second episode of Westminster Reimagined with Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, Armando Iannucci, Anoosh Chakelian and Gary Stevenson, an economist and former interest rate trader, is available now.

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