A humiliated Nicola Sturgeon today admitted Isla Bryson will be transferred away from Scotland’s only all-women’s prison.

The First Minister revealed the U-turn just 24 hours after her Justice Secretary Keith Brown backed the Scottish Prison Service’s decision to put the transgender double rapist in Cornton Vale jail in Stirling.

Today Ms Sturgeon refused four times to deny the sex attacker is in an all women’s jail. But she revealed that Bryson, who was born a man, still has a penis and only began transitioning after being charged with rape, would be moved out following a risk assessment – likely to be completed within the next 72 hours.

The First Minister did not say where Bryson, named Adam Graham until 2020, will be sent to but in a hint it would be a male prison she said: ‘I don’t think it’s possible to have a rapist within a women’s prison’.

Referring directly to the Bryson case, Ms Sturgeon confirmed: ‘This prisoner will not be incarcerated in Cornton Vale women’s prison – short term or long term’. 

But some critics urged her to spell out where the rapist will go next – and pondered if it was a fudge – given no inmates will be held at Cornton Vale from the end of next month because it is being closed for refurbishment. HMP & YOI Stirling, which is being built on the same site for female prisoners, will open in the summer.

Scottish Tory MSP Jamie Halcrow Johnston said: ‘It is shameful that Nicola Sturgeon refuses to admit that her government – and her own SNP ministers – have allowed a double rapist to be held in a women’s prison.’

And his colleague Tess White added: ‘A predatory double rapist being held in a women’s prison for any length of time is dangerous. An SNP minister defended the decision one day – then Nicola Sturgeon backtracked the next. What would have happened if there hadn’t been a public backlash?’

Isla Bryson, 31, formerly known as Adam Graham,

Transgender criminal Isla Bryson at the High Court in Glasgow

Isla Bryson, 31, (right), who was born Adam Graham (left), was convicted of raping two woman while a man 

At least half of Cornton Vale’s population are understood to have been sent HMP Polmont, near Falkirk. 

Ms Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament: ‘The risk assessment is under way. However, as in all cases, the Scottish Prison Service will not wait until an assessment is completed if they think action is required more quickly – and this prisoner is not going to be incarcerated in Cornton Vale women’s prison.

‘In terms of the interim situation, and how the situation I said there is going to be achieved, I’ve got to be mindful of allowing the Scottish Prison Service to do their operational job and to do that properly.’

The row over the rapist has engulfed the Scottish Government and its First Minister whose controversial Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill — which would allow anyone over 16 to ‘self-identify’ as the opposite sex without needing medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria — has not yet been legally ratified.  

Amid protests about the decision to send Bryson to Cornton Vale, Ms Sturgeon said: ‘It would not be appropriate for me in respect of any prisoner to give details of where they are being incarcerated.

‘But given the understandable public and parliamentary concern in this case I can confirm to parliament that this prisoner will not be incarcerated at Cornton Vale women’s prison.

‘I hope that provides assurance to the public.’

Bryson only started to transition after appearing in court on the rape charges. 

MPs and MSPs warned that female inmates could be at risk and the move sent a signal that male sex offenders could ‘game the system’. 

Isla Bryson, 31, formerly known as Adam Graham, from Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, arrives at the High Court in Glasgow.

Isla Bryson, 31, was known as Adam Graham (pictured) and had a Mike Tyson-style face tattoo during the violent sex attacks in 2016 and 2019

Transgender rapist Isla Bryson has been sent to a women’s prison despite carrying out the crimes as a man and transitioning after being charged

The retired governor of a Scottish women’s prison housing transgender double rapist Isla Bryson declared today that if she were still in charge and had to take in the sex attacker, she would quit. 

Rhona Hotchkiss believes it is ‘appalling’ that the 31-year-old was sent to Cornton Vale jail after being convicted of raping two women while still a man named Adam Graham.

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Bryson is being held at Scotland’s only full female jail while risk assessments are carried out ahead of sentencing on February 28. But critics say the abuser is a danger to women and the case has prompted calls for First Minister Nicola Sturgeon‘s stalling Gender Recognition Reform Bill to be reviewed.

Miss Hotchkiss is an ally of JK Rowling and director of the author’s Beira’s Place project – a ‘woman-only’ sexual violence support service in Edinburgh that does not cater for trans women.

The retired prison boss said: ‘This [Isla Bryson] would have been a resignation issue for me. I am absolutely clear about the fact that they should be in a male prison – you simply cannot have someone like this terrorising women. It’s appalling. The thought that a double rapist can identify his way into a women’s prison should shock everyone.

‘The other shocking aspect is, the Scottish parliament could have chosen to legislate against that happening and they didn’t.’

Ms Sturgeon will come under fresh pressure today over the decision to place Bryson in a women’s prison. She will be grilled at First Ministers Questions at noon amid fury from Scottish Tories and demands for an explanation. 

Rhona Hotchkiss (bottom right) is a director of the women-only sexual violence support service Beira's Place in Edinburgh, which will not cater for trans women. It is funded by Ms Rowling, who is a director with (left to right back row) Susan Smith, Johann Lamont and Margaret McCartney

Rhona Hotchkiss (bottom right) is a director of the women-only sexual violence support service Beira’s Place in Edinburgh, which will not cater for trans women. It is funded by Ms Rowling, who is a director with (left to right back row) Susan Smith, Johann Lamont and Margaret McCartney

Miss Hotchkiss told LBC Radio: ‘Before I left I was in a very difficult situation where I was refusing to force female staff to search male-bodied prisoners and I was told that I would be making life very difficult for myself.

‘Had I not been going to take early retirement anyway, I would have stayed and pursued that. But today, this would have been a resignation issue for me.

‘I have no doubt this is a red line I would not have crossed and as the governor of Cornton Vale I would have refused to have this person in my prison.’

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Scotland’s First Minister was questioned at a press conference on Monday at St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh about appalling signs at the Rally for Trans Equality in Glasgow on Saturday.

Police Scotland has said it is investigating after reports into a sign at the rally. SNP MP Kirsten Oswald and her party colleague, MSP Kaukab Stewart, were pictured with signs in the background calling to ‘decapitate TERFs [trans-exclusionary radical feminists]’.

Miss Hotchkiss tweeted of Ms Sturgeon: ‘Women have been telling her for years that violent misogyny is a cornerstone of trans ideology & she’s been ignoring us. She still is’.

It comes as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab slammed Ms Sturgeon after she Bryson from the women’s prison. 

Downing Street showed ‘concerns’ about the Scottish government putting the male-bodied rapist in a women’s prison. 

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson said he had ‘seen the reporting and understands the concerns’ over the decision to let the transgender woman – formerly known as Adam Graham – be held in a women’s prison despite raping two women. 

Mr Raab tweeted that such a move would not happen south of the border, after the Government overhauled rules to stop transgender sex offenders from being held in women’s prisons. 

Under the changes, Mr Raab said transgender women who had committed sex crimes or retained male genitalia could not be held in women’s prisons except in the most exceptional cases authorised by ministers.    

Both Downing Street and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) revealed they were powerless to stop the Scottish government’s move as criminal justice is a devolved responsibility. 

The decision has no wider impact on the UK’s equality laws or practices in English and Welsh jails.  

A government source told The Telegraph: ‘The point is that we are taking a more common sense approach. We are going further in our reform of the prison rules in a way that the public would expect to ensure that prisoners get the safety they would expect behind bars.’


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