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SEX-IN-PRISON GOVERNOR FINDS LOVE BEHIND BARS; High-flying Audrey, 38, falls for fellow officer.

Byline: NORMAN SILVESTER Exclusive

THE woman in charge of one of Scotland's toughest jails has fallen in love with a senior prison officer.

Shotts governor Audrey Park, 38, has found romance with keep-fit fanatic Allister Purdie, 39, the custody services chief at Perth.

Close friends say Allister has moved into Ms Park's pounds 150,000 flat in Glasgow's trendy West End.

Ms Park, who is tipped to reach the top of the Scottish Prison Service, had blamed her career for wrecking her love life.

She hit the headlines last year when she called for conjugal rights for prisoners and a relaxation of rules forbidding sex between long-term inmates and their wives.

She has said of her career: "I sometimes think when you enter the prison service you become asexual. You're a governor or a prison officer, not a woman. Relationships I've had in the past have been with people who have had their own careers and it has been difficult to combine them.

"If you're moving about so much it does have a negative impact." It is believed the couple met behind bars, when Ms Park was deputy governor at Perth Prison during the late 1990s.

Ms Park, who is 5ft tall, is one of the most respected jail governors in Scotland. Allister, a former furniture delivery driver, has responsibility for security at Perth. He goes for 40-minute jogs round the town centre every day during his lunchbreak.

He left his wife Janet, 39, last year. She is said to be devastated by the split and has consulted a lawyer.

Yesterday, at the family home in Livingston, West Lothian, Janet declined to comment on the separation. But a friend said: "Janet and her family were shocked when Ally left her. It was totally out of character. He told Janet he needed space but gave no other reason.

"She feels bitter because she has backed his career all the way. She even went part-time so he could devote all his energies to studying for exams to improve his promotion prospects."

The Purdies, who have two children, would have celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary this week.

Ambitious Ms Park is one of the leading lights in the Scottish Prison Service.

Brought up in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, her academic qualifications include an MA Honours in English, an MSc in Legal Studies and an MBA.

She was a graduate trainee with Sun Alliance Insurance before taking up a post as a prison officer at Cornton Vale in 1986.

There are four female prison governors out of 17 in Scotland. She once said: "Women are under-represented in the prison service, but I don't really play the gender card.

"I was attracted to it because it was different, a bit mysterious, a bit exciting. It sounded demanding."

Ms Park was singled out at an early stage in her career for fast-track promotion. In 15 years she has gone from being a basic grade prison officer to governor of Scotland's toughest jail.

At the age of 24, after only a year in the service, she was made an assistant governor of Greenock Prison. She later became head of security at Glenochil Prison and in 1996 was made deputy governor of Perth, aged 33.

In 1999 she was made governor of Greenock Prison and in July this year she was promoted to governor at Shotts.

The prison houses some of Scotland's most dangerous inmates.

More than 100 are murderers serving life terms, including ice cream war killers TC Campbell and Joe Steele.

Yesterday, Ms Park and Allister declined to comment.
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 16, 2001
Words:591
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