A Tory election candidate has been accused of insulting the family of tragic Jodi Jones after she declared the teenager’s killer was innocent.
Claire Brown, who is standing to be a Conservative councilor for the Upper Braes ward in Falkirk, shared a Facebook post which claimed evil Luke Mitchell was a victim of a “clear miscarriage of justice”.
Her comments were condemned by a member of Jodi’s family, who said they remain satisfied that police apprehended the right person following a murder that shocked the country in 2003.
Mitchell – then aged 16 – was convicted in January 2005 of killing 14-year-old Jodi in woodland close to her home in the Easthouses area of Dalkeith, Midlothian. He was found to have slit Jodi’s throat from her and repeatedly stabbed her.
Judge Lord Nimmo Smith told Mitchell he would “rightly be regarded as wicked”.
The murderer was detained for life with a minimum of 20 years in prison but has always maintained his innocence.
An online campaign to free Mitchell has gained traction in recent years – and public interest in the case was renewed following a
documentary broadcast by Channel 5 in February last year.
Brown – from Slamannan, Falkirk – shared the Facebook message that same month declaring him to be innocent.
In a now deleted post, she said: “Luke Mitchell did not kill Jodi Jones. Such a clear miscarriage of justice and 17 years of an innocent person’s life wasted.”
In another message, she blamed “the media and pressure on the police” for the arrest of Mitchell.
A member of Jodi’s family told the Record: “In a democratic society it is right that most should be allowed to stand up for their local communities and enter into the political arena.
“As a family, it is disappointing to see someone supporting a killer – who has shown no remorse or shame for his actions – and standing as a candidate.
“This woman declared Mitchell was innocent and blamed others for the conviction, including the police.
“As we have repeatedly said, he was found guilty in a court of law and police are satisfied they have the right person. So are we.
“Those entering public life shouldn’t be getting involved in matters of justice – particularly when it would appear that all this candidate knows about the case is from a terrible television program and social media.”
SNP MSP Rona Mackay, a member of Holyrood’s criminal justice committee, branded Brown a “disgrace” and called for the Tories to suspend her.
She said: “These are disgraceful comments from Claire Brown and a complete insult to the family of Jodi Jones, who have been through an incredible amount of trauma for years.
“It is extraordinary that someone who is seeking an elected office would undermine Scotland’s justice system – a full trial, with a jury, heard the case and all the evidence and concluded that Luke Mitchell did murder Jodi Jones.”
Brown said: “I’m genuinely sorry for this. I had seen some information in the documentary which I believed without checking the sources.
“I now realize that I was completely wrong and I apologize for any hurt this comment may cause.”
A Tory spokesman added: “We have spoken to the candidate about trusting unverified information. There is no place in our party for unproven conspiracy theories.
“She has said sorry and promised to do better in the future. We have accepted that apology.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.