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A BLACKBURN solicitor who gave criminals information relating to a police drugs investigation has today (Friday 1 November) been sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Basharat Ali Ditta, 44, of Adelaide Street, Blackburn was found guilty of two counts of perverting the course of justice following a three week trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

Between 1 January and 31 May 2011, Ditta sought to obtain information relating to the arrests of Mohseen Valli and Naeem Patel on 18 April 2011 for Neil Scarborough and Suhail Vohra, who were criminal associates of the pair.

Between 1 June and 26 August  2011, Ditta again sought and shared information with Neil Scarborough and Tahier Chand about the arrest Suhail Vohra on 24 August 2011.

At these times, Valli, Patel, Scarborough and Vohra were each subjects of a large organised crime investigation – 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 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 that was supplied by Neil Scarborough.

Undercover officers saw Scarbrough 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. 

36 people were sentenced as a result of Operation Oak including Scarborough, Valli, Patel, Chand and Vohra.

Speaking after sentencing, Superintendent Lee Halstead from Lancashire Constabulary’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. 

“Lancashire’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit led the investigation into Mr Ditta which has also seen him convicted of three counts of possession of cocaine and now perverting the course of justice, demonstrating our commitment to bringing criminals to justice.

“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.”

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