TV sting solicitor sentenced to three years

A SOLICITOR targeted by a “TV sting” was yesterday jailed for three years after being convicted of inventing stories to get a man off a drugs supplying offence — unaware he was an investigative reporter telling him a cover tale.

David Lancaster, 56, from Harbourside, Havant, Hampshire, was told by Judge Graham Cottle at Exeter Crown Court: “You broke every rule in the book in a breathtaking display of unprofessional conduct.”

Lancaster had pleaded not guilty. The court heard he attempted to incite Neil Ansell, a journalist with the BBC TV Inside Out programme, to pervert the course of justice.

The jury found he had provided the reporter with false explanations which had a tendency to pervert the course of a police investigation, and advised him to use them with intent to do the same. He was no longer practising.

The court heard Mr Ansell contacted Lancaster and posed as a client with the cover story that he had been named as the supplier of a wrap of cocaine by a friend and arrested by the police.

Prosecutor Peter Blair QC said that during an appointment at his office, Lancaster invented stories that could be used when Mr Ansell went back to the police to answer bail.

The judge told Lancaster that the criminal justice system in Britain was held up as a model of fairness and good practice.

“It follows that if any member of the legal profession engages in behaviour that brings the system into disrepute, he threatens the deserved reputation of the criminal justice system, and this necessarily has an impact on fellow professionals.

“Your behaviour in this case totally undermines that deserved reputation,” said the judge.

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