The chief executive of the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) has insisted the U-turn to move a transgender rapist out of a female prison after a public outcry was “in no way a ministerial decision”.

Teresa Medhurst was speaking in front of Holyrood’s Justice Committee, which heard that no transgender prisoner with a “live conviction” of violence against women is being held in a female jail.

But the temporary change in policy is for no transgender prisoner with a history of violence against women to be held in female jails.

Read more: Scottish Prison Service adopts blanket ban on transgender prisoners

A row erupted over the SPS decision to place double rapist Isla Bryson in a female prison, albeit in segregation from other prisoners.

The decision forced a U-turn with Bryson moved to a male prison after SNP ministers made their views known to prison bosses.

A review was ordered by Justice Secretary Keith Brown, who told the committee that “the full report will not be published due to the significant amount of personal data of both the individual and SNS staff”.

The outcome of the review showed the initial decision was taken by the SPS to take Bryson to the all-female Cornton Vale instead of HMP Barlinnie in Glasgow – as was ordered by the judge in the case – while the offender was in transit.

Mr Brown highlighted a shift in policy by the SPS following the incident review.

The SPS has essentially introduced a blanket ban on transgender prisonsers being placed in the prison estate matching their acquired gender despite Nicola Sturgeon warning that a blanket ban should not take place.

Mr Brown said: “The SPS has decided any newly-convicted or remanded transgender prisoner, not just those with a history of violence against women, will initially be placed in an establishment commensurate with their birth gender.

Read more: Sturgeon rejects blanket ban on rapists in female prison

“This wider measure reflects operational practicalities. This is a precautionary approach that I commend.”

Ms Medhurst stressed that “no-one who is convicted of violence against women will be admitted to a female prison”.

She added: “Anyone who comes into custody from now on will be allocated to an establishment that is commensurate to their birth gender as opposed to their social gender.”

The Scottish Government’s director of justice, Neil Rennick,said: “There’s not currently any trans females on the female estate who have live convictions for violence against women.”

Ms Medhurst was asked about the decision to move Bryson from a female to a male prison and whether SNP ministers leaned on the SPS for a U-turn.

She said: “There was a conversation during which I was asked about where we were in the in the case management of that individual.

Read more: Keith Brown told to publish review into trans prisoners row in full

“It was during that conversation with officials that I was made aware of ministers’ views on that.

“But an operational matter for the placement of prisoners, unless it is a policy matter, is an operational matter for the SPS.”

Ms Medhurst added: “That decision was taken by operational people in respect of both the initial placement of the individual and the subsequent decision to move the individual.

“It was in no way a ministerial decision.

“It was a telephone call to me…explaining that there were ministerial concerns within government.

“It was general concerns about the individual and a request to better understand where we were in the process.”

Asked who decided a woman’s prison was appropriate for a rapist to be held, Ms Medhurst said: “That decision was taken by headquarters.”

She added that she was “not at liberty to say” who had made the decision.

Conservative justice spokesperson, Jamie Green said: “Were you effectively overruled by Scottish ministers on the decision you ultimately were in charge of?”

In response, Ms Medhurst said: “No. Absolutely not.”

Mr Greene asked the SPS boss to explain “at what point in the process did it ever seem appropriate to house a rapist in the female estate” adding whether that “has ever been done before”.

Ms Medhurst said: “To be honest with you, I’m not aware of a similar case, but I would need to check that.”

Addressing the decision to house Bryson temporarily in a female prison, Ms Medhurst said: “There’s a really complex set of issues that are required to be considered. It’s not a simple process.”

She added that officials will “make the best decision at that time, given the circumstances and our policy position”.