A statue has been unveiled in Paisley to a pioneer of Scottish legal history following a landmark case featuring a snail and ginger beer.

May Donoghue was at the centre of a case law Donoghue v Stevenson, involving the snail in the bottle which laid down the foundation of the modern law of negligence.

The tale of the 'Paisley snail in the bottle' is one of the first cases taught to law students around the world and also covered was covered in the Environmental Health course at University of Strathclyde.

The bronze statue has been erected close to the site of the Wellmeadow Cafe in Paisley where May Donoghue was a customer in August 1928.

The shop assistant was there with a friend, who bought May a ginger beer ice cream float. As she was finishing her drink, the decomposing remains of a snail dropped out of the bottle.

May fell ill and, after a doctor diagnosed gastroenteritis and shock, a solicitor took up her case, offering his services for free to raise an action for damages.

The shop assistant had to declare herself a pauper during the legal proceedings.

Artist Mandy McIntosh, who created the statue of the Paisley Snail, was moved by May's story.

Mandy said: "She came to Paisley with her pal for a treat. She ordered an ice cream float and then the snail came slithering out of the bottle. 

"What I learned about her is that she wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. She knew it was negligence that had led to the snail being in there and she just wouldn't let the issue go. 

"She eventually won her case four years later, so that shows you how determined she was. "

The initial hearing of Donoghue v Stevenson came before the Court of Session in 1930. The drinks manufacturer, David Stevenson, appealed and the case was dismissed. 

May and her lawyer persevered and took her claim to the House of Lords. The case was eventually settled out of court, but the action changed the laws on negligence around the world.

Lord Atkin, who gave the leading judgment, held that the manufacturer owed a duty of care to Mrs Donoghue, which was breached because it was reasonably foreseeable that the manufacturer’s failure to ensure the product’s safety would lead to harm being done to consumers.

He based his judgment on the Golden Rule as found in the Gospel of Luke: “The rule that you are to love your neighbour becomes in law ‘You must not injure your neighbour’; and the lawyer’s question: ‘Who is my neighbour?’ receives a restricted reply.

“You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour.”

This neighbour principle is the foundation of the law of consumer protection, aw law on which we all depend on that we make sure we are getting safe products.