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PRISON bosses have ordered an inquiry after a sheriff hit out at "institutionalised sexism" in a Scots remand centre.

Sheriff Ian Simpson made the remarks after finding prison officer Daniel Smith guilty of assaulting a female colleague.

The sheriff said a "male bastion of brotherhood" existed at Longriggend Remand Centre in Lanarkshire.

And he condemned Smith's male workmates for trying to cover up for him.

Sheriff Simpson said: "Sexism seems to rule in Longriggend, like institutionalised sexism.

"I have never seen such a male bastion of brotherhood among fellow male prison officers trying to help a colleague."Smith was fined pounds 1750 for twice assaulting prison officer Alison Campbell.

On one occasion, he squeezed her buttocks, another time he touched her breast.

Yesterday, Paul Burgess, of the Scottish Prison Service, said: "We will be studying the comments made by the sheriff as a matter of urgency."

And a spokesman for the Scottish Prison Officers' Association admitted that sexism was an issue in Scots jails.

He added: "In any mixed environment like a prison there will be a degree of sexism, but it is difficult to say to what extent.

"We are waiting on a summary of the case from the solicitors, but this seems to be a sweeping statement by the sheriff.

"But this has highlighted our concerns, because the association would not support sexism in any way."

Smith's assaults came to light only after the prison service launched an equal opportunities inquiry following claims of sexual harassment of women prison officers by their male colleagues.

Bosses felt the allegations against Smith were so serious that they passed their files on to the police. …