Mutiny inquest: Security staff admit they had ‘limited’ powers to search people for drugs 

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SECURITY officials working the gates at a festival where two people died of a drug overdose have defended their role in preventing deadly narcotics from entering the site.

Staff working for Vespasian Security said there were stringent measures in place to prevent illegal substances from being sneaked into Mutiny Festival.

The gates are empty after Mutiny was closed following the death of two festival-goers.'Picture by:  Malcolm Wells (180527-5998)

The gates are empty after Mutiny was closed following the death of two festival-goers.'Picture by: Malcolm Wells (180527-5998)

It comes after the deaths of Georgia Jones, 18, and Tommy Cowan, both of Havant, who died after taking a batch of super-strong ecstasy tablets in May.

However, at the opening day of the inquest into the death of Miss Jones, Portsmouth Coroner’s Court heard how security staff only had limited powers to search people.

Edward Middleton was a door supervisor contracted by Vespasian to oversee the festival entrance on King George V playing field in Cosham.

He told the court there were ‘several sniffer dogs’ in operation which identified those suspected of being in possession of drugs.

Mr Middleton told the inquest people were pulled aside after being identified and given an option to ‘hand over’ the drugs before being searched in a tent, with all those found to have substances on them being removed from the site.

But he admitted: ‘We’re only allowed to ask them to turnout out their pockets. We can’t remove clothing and search it unless they take it off.

‘We can search their pockets and search their bags but we can’t go further.’

His comments come after Detective Constable Sharon Lewry earlier told the court a number of empty condoms, which were suspected of having been used to smuggle drugs that were secreted inside dealers, were found in the toilets on the site.

When asked by coroner David Horsley if he was aware of any other people at the festival falling ill through the effects of drug use, Mr Middleton added he ‘didn’t see anyone else’.