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Blackburn solicitor accused of tipping off drug dealers
A SOLICITOR has gone on trial accused of tipping off drug dealers about secret police investigations into them.
Basharat Ditta, 42, who worked for law firm Forbes, in Blackburn, would call major players in the supply chain, some of whom he had previously represented, after key arrests to tell them what detectives knew about them, a court heard.
The defendant's relationship with these clients crossed a 'very basic line' and turned him ‘from a criminal lawyer into a criminal', the jury was told.
It is alleged that when drugs couriers acting on behalf of Neil Scarborough, Tahier Chand and Suhail Vohra were arrested as part of Lancashire Police's serious and organised crime unit's Operation Oak, Ditta, would have 'careful conversations' with those representing the alleged couriers to find information that may help the trio continue supplying class A drugs.
The crown alleges that Ditta, of Adelaide Terrace, Blackburn, passed on messages for them knowing the details could frustrate the ongoing police investigation.
Prosecuting, Anne Whyte said: "If anyone should know not to the break the law, it is a criminal solicitor.
"Mr Ditta is accused of abusing his position as a criminal solicitor, having become too involved with specific clients.
"He is accused of trying to obtain information without being detected and without raising suspicion about the current extent of police knowledge into the activity of Scarborough, Vohra and Chand."
Ditta denies two counts of perverting the course of justice.
When questioned about the allegations, Ditta claimed he could not discuss conversations between him and his clients because of legal professional privilege, the court was told.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that police became aware of Ditta's involvement after Scarborough left three snap-seal bags of cocaine under his bin for his personal use.
Miss Whyte said: "The relationship we are talking about is not simply a drug dealer, but a drug dealer providing his own lawyer with drugs.
"Scarborough was a convicted drug dealer.
"Mr Ditta was well aware of that.
"There can be no doubt that Mr Ditta knew exactly what and who he was dealing with.
"He can have been in no doubt about how seriously the police were taking Mr Scarborough.
"Some of his communications will undoubtedly have been legitimate ones because he was their lawyer.
"But this went way beyond the ordinary confines of a lawyer client relationship.
"He thwarted the police's investigation as much as possible to enable them to continue in their criminal activities.
"Mr Ditta was not honouring his profession, but dishonouring it.
"He got too close to certain clients, in particular Scarborough, and he allowed his independence to be compromised."