A transgender woman convicted of raping two women has reportedly been moved to a male prison, hours after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced she would not be held in Scotland’s only all-female jail.
Bryson, named Adam Graham until 2020, was removed to a male wing of a prison this afternoon. A vehicle believed to be transporting Bryson was pictured leaving Cornton Vale jail in Stirling at around 2.30pm and it arrived at a replacement facility at 5.20pm.
The SNP leader revealed the U-turn just 24 hours after her own justice secretary Keith Brown backed the Scottish Prison Service’s decision to put the transgender double rapist with female inmates in Cornton Vale.
The Scottish First Minister addressed the row over where Isla Bryson, 31, from Clydebank, should be imprisoned after being found guilty of two rapes carried out when she was a man.
Bryson was taken to Cornton Vale women’s prison in Stirling after being convicted on Tuesday. The transfer to the male prison was expected to be completed on Thursday.
Speaking during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon said a risk assessment was being carried out by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), but she stressed Bryson would not be housed at Cornton Vale.
She 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.’
The case was raised by Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, who questioned why Bryson had initially been placed in the female-only jail after being remanded into custody prior to sentencing.
Branding Bryson a ‘beast’, Mr Ross said: ‘This double rapist only decided to change gender after he was charged by the police.
‘It took the threat of jail for this criminal to decide to change his gender. That’s not a coincidence, that is a conscious decision.
‘We think it is wrong that a rapist is sent to a women’s prison. We believe a rapist having access to a women’s single-sex space is a threat.’
Ms Sturgeon said: ‘Short term or long term, this prisoner is not going to be in Cornton Vale.
‘But it is important to allow the Scottish Prison Service operationally to give effect to the decisions that they have taken.’
A Scottish Prison Service spokesman said: ‘Decisions by the SPS as to the most appropriate location to accommodate transgender people are made on an individualised basis, informed by a multi-disciplinary assessment of both risk and need.
‘Such decisions seek to protect both the wellbeing and rights of the individual as well as the welfare and rights of others around them, including staff, in order to achieve an outcome that balances risks and promotes the safety of all, and that is exactly what has happened in this case.’
Speaking to journalists later, the First Minister said the Government had given no ‘formal direction’ to the prison service on where Bryson should be imprisoned.
She added: ‘In all cases where a risk assessment is being done, the prison service will not necessarily wait until it is concluded if there are reasons for a different decision on where a prisoner is accommodated.
‘This individual case is not about whether they are trans or not, in this individual case this is a person who’s been convicted of rape, so this individual is a rapist and a sex offender and that is what’s important.’
In a briefing for the media after First Minister’s Questions, a spokesman for Ms Sturgeon said her view on Bryson had been relayed to the prison service through officials, but it would be wrong to say her opinion had changed the decision to bar the prisoner from Cornton Vale.
The spokesman would not say if it is now Scottish Government policy to bar all rapists from female prisons.
Bryson, previously known as Adam Graham, was on Tuesday found guilty of raping one woman in Clydebank in 2016 and another in Drumchapel, Glasgow, in 2019, following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.
Her estranged wife, Shonna Graham, 31, claimed her former partner’s transition was a ‘sham for attention’ and that she is attempting to fool the authorities.
‘Never once did he say anything to me about feeling he was in the wrong body or anything,’ Ms Graham told the Daily Mail.
‘I can see why he doesn’t want to be in a prison with loads of big scary men, so he’s come up with this ploy to get himself a much easier sentence.
‘During the court proceedings, Bryson claimed she knew she was transgender at the age of four but did not decide to transition until she was 29, and is currently taking hormones and seeking surgery to complete gender reassignment.
The transgender woman convicted of rape will not serve her sentence in Scotland’s only all-female prison, Nicola Sturgeon said on Thursday.
The Scottish First Minister spoke as the row continued over where Isla Bryson, who was convicted earlier this week of of raping two women when she was a man – should be imprisoned.
Bryson was remanded at Cornton Vale women’s prison near Stirling while she awaits sentencing following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon confirmed a risk assessment is being carried out by the Scottish Prison Service, as she stressed Bryson would not be held at 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.
It comes as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab slammed Ms Sturgeon over the prison scandal.
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 be held in a women’s prison despite raping two women.
Mr Raab tweeted 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 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.
During the court proceedings, Bryson claimed she knew she was transgender at the age of four but did not make the decision to transition until she was 29, and is currently taking hormones and seeking surgery to complete gender reassignment.