A TRANSGENDER prisoner who attacked two women when she was a man has been moved into a male jail after Nicola Sturgeon suggested it was not suitable for her to be held in a female institution.

The row emerged after Isla Bryson 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.

She was being held at Cornton Vale women’s prison in Stirling while awaiting sentence for the crimes, which she committed before she began transitioning to become a woman, but it is understood she was moved to a male-only prison yesterday afternoon.

Before Ms Bryson was moved, the First Minister told MSPs that she agreed that a rapist could not be held in a women’s prison, adding that she expected Isla Bryson to be moved from a female prison by tomorrow.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross asked her “should a convicted rapist ever serve time in a women’s prison”.

In response, Ms Sturgeon said that “in general, any prisoner who poses a risk of sexual offending is segregated from other prisoners, including during any period of risk assessment”.

She added that “there is no automatic right for a trans woman convicted of a crime to serve their sentence in a female prison, even if they have a gender recognition certificate”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Every case is subjected to rigorous individual risk assessment and as part of that the safety of other prisoners is paramount.

“I heard the chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland say this yesterday – ‘I don't see how it's possible to have a rapist within a female prison’.

“So let me be very clear, I agree with that statement.”

Turning to the case of Ms Bryson, Ms Sturgeon added: “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, not least to the victims in this particular case.”

But Mr Ross said: “We think it's wrong that a rapist is sent to a women's prison.

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“We believe that a rapist having access to a woman's single-sex space is a threat.

“Does the First Minister believe that it's possible for our rapist to be held in a woman's prison...and not be a threat to women?”

Ms Sturgeon pointed to “the interim situation”, and said she would “be mindful of allowing the Scottish Prison Service to do the operational job and to do that properly”.

She added: “If any prisoner poses and is considered to pose a risk or give rise to any concern about sexual offending, that prisoner is segregated from other prisoners, and that applies during any period of risk assessment.”

Mr Ross claimed that “this double rapist only decided to change gender after he was charged by the police”.

He added: “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.

“Now the First Minister is hiding behind the Scottish Prison Service, but they are a government agency accountable to SNP ministers."

Ms Sturgeon insisted that “this prisoner is not going to be incarcerated in Cornton Vale either short term or long term”.

In response, Mr Ross said: “We have warned for months that violent criminals just like this sex offender, the absolute beast we are discussing today, will try to exploit loopholes in the law and attack and traumatise women.

“The problem as we have said all along is not trans people - the problem is violent. offenders. But now before the SNPs GRR Bill has even come into force, rapists are currently exploiting the cutting laws. We shouldn't make it any easier for them to attack women.

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Hitting back, the FM said: “The Scottish Prison Service is in the process of giving effect to the decision it has taken not to incarcerate this prisoner in Cornton Vale”.

After FMQs, Ms Sturgeon was pressed on her belief that people should be able to self-identify in a new gender,.

She said: “This individual case is not about whether they are trans or not.

“In this individual case, this is a person who has been convicted of rape.

“So this individual is a rapist and a sex offender and that is what is important.”

Ms Sturgeon also said ministers gave “no formal direction” to the Scottish Prison Service on where to accommodate Bryson.

However the FM’s official spokesman said Ms Sturgeon’s clear view that a rapist should not be housed on the female prison estate had been communicated to the service.

He said: “I would expect they [SPS] would take ministers’ views into account as part of their overall assessment in a tricky case like this. But they operate at arm’s length from ministers, they have a lot of important sensitive stuff to deal with.

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“Ministers can’t be expected to be across all the detail of every single thing the SPS deal with, but this is clearly a very high profile case, which the FM was going to be asked about, and it was only right and proper that she made her views known publicly and also to the SPS. You'd kind of expect that.”

A Scottish Prison Service spokesperson 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."