A former solicitor jailed for perverting the course of justice has failed in a bid to return to the legal profession.
Basharat Ali Ditta, 48, was struck off the roll in January 2015 after being convicted of cocaine possession and later two counts of ‘doing a series of acts tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice’.
Criminal lawyer Ditta, formerly with Blackburn firm Forbes Solicitors, was sentenced to three years in prison after the second conviction in 2013. He was found to have used his position as a solicitor to pass on information between arrested or detained co-conspirators to as yet un-arrested third parties. The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal said this was a ‘gross abuse’ of his trusted position and a ‘serious and unacceptable departure’ from the standards expected of solicitors.
According to a decision notice posted by the SRA this week, Blackburn firm Walker Prestons Solicitors Limited applied for permission to employ Ditta. It was refused. The regulator stated: ‘The SRA considers that to grant approval in this case would put public confidence in the administration of justice and the provision of legal services or the interests of clients at risk.’
Walker Prestons Solicitors said in a statement:
'Whilst Walker Prestons Solicitors recognises the seriousness of the offences for which Mr Ditta was convicted, these offences relate to events in 2011. Mr Ditta has served his sentence and has been through considerable rehabilitation. We firmly believe, as required by law, in the rehabilitation of offenders.
'We emphasise that this was not an application seeking Mr Ditta’s return to the legal profession. It was clearly represented to the Solicitors Regulation Authority that this was a non-legal, non-client facing, business development role to be performed under strict supervision. This is no different to similar such roles outside of the legal profession. The role, and the firm’s proposed stringent conditions, would have ensured that there would have been no prospect of any risk whatsoever to members of the public.
'The SRA did not agree that Mr Ditta’s employment, irrespective of the proposed role and conditions, was appropriate.'