APPEAL COURT, HIGH COURT OF JUSTICIARY
OPINION OF THE COURT
THE HON. LORD SUTHERLAND
PROCURATOR FISCAL, PAISLEY
Appellant: Muir; Drummond Miller, W.S.
Respondent: Gray, A.D.; Crown Agent
28 May 1999
This is the appeal of Laura Connelly who was convicted of a contravention of section 5(2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act, possession of amphetamines. The circumstances were that the appellant along with two other women sought admission to a public house in Paisley. In accordance with the admissions policy of that establishment persons coming in were asked if they would mind being searched for weapons, drugs or alcohol. A steward employed by the public house asked if they would object to being searched and no objection was made. It appears that there was one handbag being carried by one of the women and it is not known which one that was. The question asked was "Do you mind if I search your bag?". The bag was then handed over for search. The bag contained three purses, each of which was taken out in turn and the question asked "Whose purse is this?". When the purse was produced which the appellant indicated was hers, it was opened and a cellophane bag containing a white substance was found. When this was pulled from the purse the appellant said "It's paracetamol".
Mr Muir on the appellant's behalf today submitted that the objection which was taken at the trial to the effect that no consent had been given to the search of the appellant's purse should have been upheld. His submission was, putting the matter broadly, that the fact that consent had been given to a search of the handbag did not imply that consent had been given to the search of each individual purse or item that was found within the handbag. The point is undoubtedly a short one and in our view it is one without substance. If the handbag was handed over and all the persons concerned with that bag consented to the search of the handbag, in our view it is quite clear that the consent to the search of the handbag must also constitute consent to the search of any individual item found therein. If, of course, some item was produced from the handbag and any one of the persons concerned objected to that particular item being examined more closely, then the consent could at that stage have been withdrawn, but until the consent was withdrawn in our view the general consent for a search of the handbag included consent to the search of the contents. For these reasons we are satisfied that the sheriff correctly repelled the objection and we are satisfied that Mr Muir's submission is incorrect.
In these circumstances we shall answer question 1 in the affirmative and question 2 is superseded that point not having been taken by Mr Muir.