Sturgeon opens door to more trans rapists being sent to female prisons

Nicola Sturgeon opens the door to more transgender rapists being sent to women’s prisons as she says ‘there’s a danger with blanket approach’ of total jail ban – and slams critics of her trans rights bill as racist, misogynistic and homophobic

  • Nicola Sturgeon appeared to rule out a complete ban on rapists in female jails 
  • She said: there’s a ‘danger with a blanket approach because you catch cases that you shouldn’t’
  • Isla Bryson has been moved from a female jail to a male jail after days of fury 

Nicola Sturgeon today appeared to dismiss a ‘blanket’ ban on rapists being held in female jails despite a humiliating U-turn in the Isla Bryson case yesterday.

The First Minister also let fly at critics of her ailing Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill, claiming some are ‘transphobic’, ‘deeply misogynist’ and ‘possibly racist as well’.

She is said to have backed the decision that the transgender sex attacker should be moved to the male section of HMP Edinburgh following days of fury after she was remanded in Cornton Vale – Scotland’s only female prison.

Addressing the Scottish Parliament yesterday she said: ‘I don’t see how it’s possible to have a rapist within a women’s prison’.

But in an interview with The News Agents, Ms Sturgeon appeared to oppose any ‘blanket approach’. She said she backed the ‘general principle [that] someone who rapes a woman should not be in a women’s prison’. 

Leaving the door open to exceptions, she said that there’s a ‘danger with a blanket approach because you catch cases that you shouldn’t’.

Cybernats group Wings over Scotland, which is pro-independence but anti Ms Sturgeon, tweeted: ‘Which cases of rapists in women’s prisons SHOULDN’T you catch? Which rapists should you be allowing into women’s prisons? Just the *nice* rapists?’

Speaking to Global’s The News Agent’s podcast, the First Minister said there’s a ‘danger with a blanket approach’ to the ‘general principle [that] someone who rapes a woman should not be in a women’s prison’

Isla Bryson, 31, raped two vulnerable women before transitioning in 2020. Between 2016 and 2019, when the attacks happened, Bryson was a shaven-headed thug by the name of Adam Graham (pictured)

Ms Sturgeon also told LBC that some critics of her Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill are using the ‘cloak of caring about women’s rights’ to hide their ‘misogyny and racism’. 

‘That’s not everybody who opposes this bill. I want to be very clear about that. But there are people who have opposed this bill that cloak themselves in women’s rights to make it acceptable, but just as they’re transphobic you’ll also find that they’re deeply misogynist, often homophobic, possibly some of them racist as well’, she said.

Revealed: SNP’s flip-flopping over Isla Bryson decision

Tuesday: Bryson is convicted for the rape of a woman in Clydebank, East Dunbartonshire, in 2016 and a rape against a second woman in Drumchapel, Glasgow, in 2019. She is moved to Cornton Vale women’s prison in Stirling for sentencing. 

Wednesday: Following an outcry from women’s campaigners, Number 10 weighs in to express concern about the placement, with Rishi Sunak’s spokesman saying he ‘understands the concerns’. 

However, SNP Justice Minister Keith Brown expresses his confidence in the Scottish Prison Service and refuses to intervene. He adds that the controversial Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill would have no implication on which prisons transgender people are held in.

Thursday: In a ‘screeching’ u-turn within 24 hours of Mr Brown’s comments, Nicola Sturgeon announces that Bryson will be transferred from Scotland’s only all-women’s prison to a male jail. 

Friday:  Ms Sturgeon tells LBC she backed the ‘general principle [that] someone who rapes a woman should not be in a women’s prison’. 

But leaving the door open to exceptions, she said that there’s a ‘danger with a blanket approach because you catch cases that you shouldn’t’.

Her words may be a move to try to rescue her controversial trans laws that were left in disarray by the decision to move Isla Bryson away from the women’s prison estate to a male jail.

Last night critics said the Bryson case had highlighted dangers posed by the Bill to women’s safety and inconsistencies in Ms Sturgeon’s position. 

The U-turn happened just a day after her justice secretary backed the decision by the Scottish Prison Service.

Isla Bryson raped two women while living as a man, and began transitioning from male to female in 2020, after she was charged with the two sex attacks.

The former DJ’s estranged wife Shonna Graham has dismissed her husband’s transition as a ‘sham’ and told the Mail this week Bryson was ‘bullsh***ing the authorities’ to avoid a men’s prison.

The extraordinary case enraged opponents to Ms Sturgeon’s Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill, who said it demonstrated the potential risks of allowing gender self-identification without the need for medical evidence or diagnosis.

Speaking during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon confirmed Bryson would not be kept at Cornton Vale women’s prison, near Stirling. She failed, however, to mention the facility is due to shut from the end of next month anyway.

She said the decision had been taken by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) but added: ‘I don’t think it’s possible to have a rapist within a women’s prison.’

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross questioned why Bryson was initially been placed in the segregation unit of the female-only jail.

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.

A van arrives at HMP Edinburgh last night where Isla Bryson is now incarcerated 

‘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.’

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.’

Female students were told to strip naked for spray tan sessions in college beauty class in front of transgender rapist 

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?’

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government had not given any ‘formal direction’ to the SPS over Bryson’s imprisonment but it is understood representations were made in the background.

She said: ‘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.’

Last week, Westminister said it would use powers known as a Section 35 order to stop the GRR bill gaining royal assent on the basis it would cut across UK-wide equality legislation.

Scottish Conservative equalities spokesman Rachael Hamilton said: ‘The case of Isla Bryson has been the ultimate illustration of the dangers of Nicola Sturgeon’s GRR Bill.

‘Legal experts have warned that it would be near impossible to exclude male sex offenders seeking to abuse the prison system, once they are armed with a Gender Recognition Certificate.

‘Under Nicola Sturgeon’s reckless gender ID reforms, a predator could get one in just three months – vastly less time than most rape trials take.

‘The First Minister will be putting vulnerable women and girls at risk unless she finally bans sex offenders awaiting trial and those already convicted from obtaining a new Gender ID – a Scottish Conservative amendment the SNP shamefully voted against in December.

‘The UK Government’s Section 35 order is the chance for the SNP to learn from this disgraceful case and fix the dangerous errors in this Bill.’

Bryson was convicted this week for the rape of a woman in Clydebank, East Dunbartonshire, in 2016 and a rape against a second woman in Drumchapel, Glasgow, in 2019.

HMP Edinburgh, also known as Saughton Prison, houses some 900 inmates and holds both men and women in different units, known as halls.

Inmates have included serial killer Peter Tobin, who was given a life sentence for the murders of Polish student Angelika Kluk and teenagers Vicky Hamilton, 15, and Dinah McNicol, 18.

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