Blackburn corrupt solicitor guilty of perverting course of justice
12:00pm Saturday 2nd November 2013 in News
A CORRUPT solicitor with a cocaine addition who passed top-secret police information to drugs dealers has been found guilty of perverting the course of justice. Basharat Ditta, who was employed by Blackburn law firm Forbes, held his head in his hands as the judge sentenced him to three years behind bars.
The 44-year-old, of Adelaide Terrace, Blackburn, turned from a ‘criminal solicitor to a criminal’, when he started taking cocaine supplied by one of his clients.
He would then try to gleam information for his dealer Neil Scarborough and his associates Tahier Chand and Suhail Vohra about arrests of their couriers so they could avoid being caught themselves.
His actions left him in a ‘hopelessly compromised’ position, Liverpool Crown Court was told.
Judge Timothy Holroyde told Ditta: “No impediment to the actual course of justice was created, but one is bound to say that was no thanks to you because you were intending to pervert the course of justice and you did what you could to achieve that.
“You were a solicitor misusing and abusing your position.
“The courts and public rely on solicitors to discharge their difficult role with integrity and in a manner which upholds the role of the law.
“I readily accept that for much of your career, you played your part in maintaining those standards.
“When a solicitor deliberately departs from those standards and acts with intent to pervert the course of justice which his profession requires him to uphold, the consequences must be severe.”
Between January 1 and May 31, 2011, Ditta tried to get information about the arrests of Mohseen Valli and Naeem Patel for Scarborough and Vohra, who were criminal associates of the pair.
And between June 1 and August 26, 2011, he again shared details with Scarborough and Chand about the arrest of Vohra.
At that time, Valli, Patel, Scarborough and Vohra were each subjects of a large organised crime investigation, codenamed Operation Oak, into the supply of heroin and cocaine across Lancashire and other parts of the country including Cumbria, Merseyside, Berkshire and West Yorkshire.
Ditta acted as the solicitor for Neil Scarborough throughout the period of the two charges of perverting the course of justice.
He was also part of the Operation Oak investigation after being found in possession of cocaine.
Undercover officers saw Scarborough dropping off three bags of the drug, hidden inside a black golf glove, at Ditta’s home.
He pleaded guilty to three charges of possessing cocaine and was handed a three-month curfew order in October 2011 at South Sefton Magistrates.
In total, 36 people were brought to justice as a result of Operation Oak including Scarborough, Valli, Patel, Chand and Vohra.
Defending Ditta, Simon Csoka QC, who also represented murderer Dale Cregan, said his client was now facing being struck off.
He said: “He is a parent and he is a husband and it is an enormous tragedy for his family, not just his immediate family, but his wider family, that his career, that was not only promising, but also successful, has come to and end.
“He cannot expect any sympathy for that.
“A custodial sentence is obviously inevitable, but for somebody such as Mr Ditta, it would be particularly difficult.”
Ditta had maintained that he was not guilty of the two charges of perverting the course of justice.
The jury found him guilty after a three-week trial.
Speaking after sentencing, Superintendent Lee Halstead, from Lancashire police’s serious and organised crime unit, said: “Mr Ditta turned from criminal solicitor to a criminal himself the moment he started obtaining drugs from organised criminals.
“His addiction to cocaine left him hopelessly compromised and vulnerable to the motives of leading members of organised crime groups who tasked him to obtain valuable information regarding police investigations.
“Solicitors should uphold the highest standards of integrity and should instil trust and confidence in the public.
“Ditta has betrayed this trust and attempted to hide behind the veneer of his profession.
“Let this case serve as a warning to criminals that no one is beyond the reach of the law. We will find you and put you before the courts.”
John Barker, managing partner at Forbes Solicitors, said: “When we were made aware of these allegations, Mr Ditta was immediately suspended by the firm, and he left the firm some time ago. ”