A disgraced former solicitor who was jailed and then struck off the legal register for telling drug dealers about police investigations has been allowed to take up employment in the sector once again.

Basharat Ditta, formerly a partner at Forbes Solicitors, was jailed for three years in November 2013 at Preston Crown Court after he was caught up in drugs conspiracy charges surrounding three men, Neil Scarborough, Suhail Vohra and Tahier Chand.

Ditta, formerly of Adelaide Street, Blackburn, who confessed he had a cocaine problem, was said to have passed messages between the suspects in a bid to frustrate police investigations.

As a result of his conviction, Ditta, now 54, was struck off the solicitors roll in January 2015, and failed with nine subsequent legal challenges to overturn it. The final of those was thrown out at the High Court in London in 2016.

Consequently, any solicitor who wished to employ or remunerate him in connection with their practise as a solicitor must have obtained approval from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Lancashire Telegraph: Basharat DittaBasharat Ditta (Image: Police)

In 2017, Walker Preston Solicitors applied to the SRA for permission to hire Ditta in what they say was a non-legal business development role where he would not have come face-to-face with clients, but the application was refused.

But in April this year, eight years after his initial striking-off, approval was finally granted by the SRA for him to be employed by a legal firm in Bradford, with the result of the application published last month.

A spokesperson for the SRA said: “We are satisfied that the above employment will not put public confidence in the administration of justice and the provision of legal services or the interests of clients at risk.”

Drummond Solicitors Limited has been granted permission under section 41 of the Solicitors Act 1974 to employ Ditta as a legal clerk, subject to conditions which include; having his work supervised at all times; having his employment limited to that described in the section 41 approval of employment application form; having his files reviewed on a fortnightly basis for six months; and only being permitted to work at the firm’s head office in Chapel Street, Bradford.

He must also not have responsibility for or be involved in the training, supervision, or compliance of any other employee at Drummond Solicitors Limited; may only conduct interviews with clients or take instructions from clients under direct supervision; must not be held out as a solicitor; and is not able to attend the firm’s office without one of the named supervisor’s being present to supervise him.

The supervision arrangements and job description may not be varied without the SRA’s prior written approval, and the approval will lapse if Ditta’s employment with Drummond Solicitors Limited is terminated.

A spokesperson for Drummond Solicitors said: “Drummond Solicitors Limited can confirm the appointment of Mr Ditta as a legal clerk within our office based in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

“Drummond Solicitors are aware of the background of Mr Ditta and the custodial sentence imposed upon him for attempting to pervert the course of justice in 2013.

“The seriousness of the offence is not questionable. However, what we do point out is that the offending behaviour arose from events in 2011, some 12 years ago.

“An application was made to the SRA in November 2022 pursuant to the prescribed procedure for approval to employ Mr Ditta.

“The SRA were invited to consider the age of the offending behaviour, the rehabilitation of Mr Ditta including returning to university to obtain further qualifications, employment for many years for a PLC company and his genuine remorse into the events that occurred.

“The SRA thoroughly examined the application, including a personal statement submitted by Mr Ditta and a number of references from persons within the profession and outside who supported his return.

“Following careful and detailed scrutiny, the SRA granted approval for employment in May 2023.

“We emphasise that the employment of Mr Ditta is subject to strict conditions imposed by the SRA.

“We believe every individual has the right to rehabilitation.

“It is our view that Mr Ditta can contribute positively to the profession, and we look forward to working with him.”