A Lancashire solicitor who tipped off drug dealers with information about a police investigation has been jailed for three years.
Basharat Ali Ditta, 44, from Blackburn, was found guilty of two counts of perverting the course of justice following a three-week trial at Liverpool Crown Court.
In 2011, Ditta, described by the police as a cocaine addict, sought out information on the arrests of Mohseen Valli and Naeem Patel for Neil Scarborough and Suhail Vohra, who were criminal associates of the pair.
The solicitor, who worked for Lancashire firm Forbes, later sought and shared information with Scarborough and another associate, Tahier Chand, about the arrest of Vohra.
At these times, Patel, Valli, Scarborough and Vohra were each subjects of a large organised crime investigation, dubbed Operation Oak, into the supply of heroin and cocaine across the north-west and other parts of the country.
Ditta acted as the solicitor for Scarborough throughout the period of the two charges of perverting the course of justice.
He was also in regular contact with Scarborough, Vohra and Chand on their various and changing mobile phone numbers.
Ditta was additionally part of the Operation Oak investigation after he was found in possession of cocaine supplied by Scarborough.
Undercover officers saw Scarborough dropping off three bags of cocaine – hidden inside a black golf glove – at Ditta’s home address in February 2011. He pleaded guilty to three charges of possessing cocaine and was ordered to abide by a three-month curfew order in October 2011 at South Sefton Magistrates.
In total, 36 people have been sentenced as a result of Operation Oak, including Scarborough, Valli, Patel, Chand and Vohra.
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. Mr Ditta has betrayed this trust and attempted to hide behind the veneer of his profession.’