A CROOKED lawyer who nobbled witnesses in an international energy drinks scam probe has been jailed for five years.

Solicitor Majed Iqbal, from Nelson, was caught red-handed with video clips of him ‘buying the silence’ of witnesses in a £310,000 con, based around a fraudulent ‘Duracell’ beverage.

The 32-year-old, of Elizabeth Street, was even arrested at Manchester Airport with copies of retraction statements in his briefcase.

He represented Bradford nightclub tycoon Yasar Hussain, and had flown out to Dubai and Budapest to persuade victims of an energy drink scam not to attend an upcoming crown court trial.

Prosecutors said the retraction statements were always received at the exact same time Iqbal and Hussain were out of the country.

Iqbal, a father-of-two, who worked for Petheridge Bassra in Bradford, was convicted of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice after a seven-week trial at Hull Crown Court.

Hussain masterminded the energy drink scam and initially approached Procter and Gamble, the owner of the Duracell brand, the court heard.

Even though he was knocked back, he launched a bogus marketing campaign around a fictitious Duracell drink, flying out to an international food fair at the World Trade Centre in Dubai to secure customers.

But on the first day of his trial, Hussain skipped bail and has not been seen since. It is believed he may be in Dubai.

This left one of his brothers, Zameer Hussain, and Iqbal, to be sentenced. Zameer, who withdrew £30,000 to pay off witnesses and admitted a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice charge, was jailed for 18 months. He was cleared of conspiracy to defraud Simon Chokar QC, for Iqbal, said: “It is an appalling tragedy for him and his family that he finds himself in this position today. But by his actions he has destroyed his career. His whole career and reputation is finished.”

Jailing Iqbal, Judge Mark Bury said: “This offence was carried out in your capacity as a solicitor with a duty to uphold the law.

“You have breached that trust in a determined and cynical way. You tried to obtain public funds for two of those visits. This was not a one-off offence. There were five separate visits.

“In my judgment a substantial custodial sentence is deserved to mark the severity of the offence and uphold the confidence the public have in the legal profession and finally to deter others who are thinking of doing the same.”