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Jury out in Blackburn solicitor’s trial
A PROMINENT solicitor standing trial for perverting the course of justice claimed he was only ever ‘doing his job in the ordinary way’.
Basharat Ditta, who worked for law firm Forbes, in Blackburn, is accused of having passed on critical information to drug dealers about secret investigations into them.
Summing up the evidence heard by Liverpool Crown Court over more than four weeks, Mr Justice Holroyde said Ditta, of Adelaide Terrace, Blackburn, claimed he may have been ‘being used’ by the dealers.
The 42-year-old did not deny that he was in contact with men he had previously represented, like Neil Scarborough, who supplied Ditta with cocaine, and Suhail Vohra and Tahier Chand moments after the arrests of their drugs couriers.
But he claimed the conversations were not about the investigation, merely the welfare of those arrested.
The prosecution alleges that considering Ditta was not always representing these couriers, there were too many coincid-ences in the timing of the calls.
Summarising prosecutor Anne Whyte’s closing speech, Mr Justice Holroyde said: “Finding out as much as possible, as quickly as possible, about what the police knew, and whom they were investigating, would assist these three men.
“The defendant with his many years of experience as a sol-icitor in criminal cases must have known that full well.”
Ditta denies ever having tried to find out information about the police’s Operation Oak, which was set up to investigate the drugs ring, or having passed any details onto anybody else.
After the arrest of Naeem Patel, one of the cocaine cour-iers, Ditta claimed he had been contacted by Vohra only to make sure Patel would be well represented.
Mr Justice Holroyde, summ-arising Ditta’s evidence, said: “He would have been well with-in his rights, if he was the corrupt sort of solicitor the prosec-ution alleges, to go straight down to the police station and act for Patel himself.
“Ditta was suggesting that the fact that he did not shows he is not a corrupt solicitor.”
The defendant’s barrister Simon Choker said in his clos-ing speech: “The defendant is telling the truth when he tells you that he said nothing improp-er, or wrong, to Scarborough, Vohra or Chand.
“Even if Mr Ditta had said anything wrong, it could never have had any tendency to perv-ert the course of justice.”