Transgender woman convicted of rape will not be held in all-female prison, Sturgeon says

A transgender woman convicted of rape carried out while she was a man will not be imprisoned in the all-female Cornton Vale prison in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Isla Bryson is being removed from the prison today and will serve her sentence in a jail with male inmates, Sky News understands.

The 31-year-old was this week found guilty of raping two women while she identified as a man following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

There had been concerns over her detention in Cornton Vale women's prison in Stirling while she awaits sentencing.

A senior source told Sky News Bryson is being removed "imminently" and will serve the rest of her time behind bars in a male prison wing.

Speaking at First Minister's Questions at Holyrood on Thursday, 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.

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."

Bryson 'preyed' on vulnerable women

Bryson attacked the victims before she transitioned and when she was known as Adam Graham.

The trial heard Bryson raped one woman in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, in 2016, and another in Drumchapel, Glasgow, in 2019.

Bryson met both her victims online, with prosecutors saying she "preyed" on vulnerable women.

She denied the charges, telling the court she "would never hurt another human being".

However, a jury found her guilty of both rape charges.

Ms Sturgeon's comments come after Downing Street also expressed concerns about the safety of other inmates at Cornton Vale.

The prime minister's official spokesman said yesterday: "This is a case in which the courts are yet to hand down a sentence so I'm not going to give anything on the specifics.

"I've seen the reporting and understand the concerns."

Asked about the general policy, he said: "The UK has a policy which sees the prison service in England and Wales manage transgender prisoners on a case-by-case basis and transgender women must go through a robust risk assessment which factor in their offending history and anatomy before they can be moved to a women's prison."

'Dangerous rapist should not be in a women's prison'

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper also criticised the decision to hold Bryson in a women's prison.

"This dangerous rapist should not be in a women's prison and it should be clear that if someone poses a danger to women and committed crimes against women, they should not be being housed in a women's prison. That is straightforward and I think most people would agree with that," she told the BBC's Today programme.

Fiona Cruickshanks, head of operations and protection at the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), said if an individual prisoner poses a particular risk, they can be removed and separated from other inmates.

"If we think that an individual poses particular risks, or if there is a particular risk to them, then we have the opportunity to remove them from mainstream and keep them separated until such times as our decision is made on how we best manage that risk," she told the BBC's Reporting Scotland.

"Any transgender person who is admitted into custody is admitted into the establishment that matches their identified gender that they were living in within the community."

Estranged wife: Bryson's decision to change gender a sham

During her trial, Bryson told jurors she knew she was transgender at the age of four but did not make the decision to transition until she was 29. She is taking hormones and seeking surgery to complete gender reassignment.

Her estranged wife, Shonna Graham, 31, claimed Bryson's decision to change gender was a "sham".

Ms Graham said she has a "lot of sympathy" for transgender people, but that her former partner is attempting to fool the authorities.

She told the Daily Mail: "Never once did he say anything to me about feeling he was in the wrong body or anything.

"I have a lot of sympathy for real transgender people, it's a hard thing to live with, but he's just b*********** the authorities."

Ms Graham said she had been attempting to seek a divorce for the last seven years, but had been unable to find Bryson.