A former professional darts player has been jailed for his role in a multi-million pound tax fraud scheme.

Steve Maish, 54, who used to live in Southend, allowed his identity and company to be used as part of the scam.

The gang of six, including Maish, were found guilty at Southwark Crown Court of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue.

They used insider knowledge provided by former tax office worker Susanne Green, 38, from Moray, Scotland, to fraudulently claim millions in VAT repayments.

She was described by a judge as the ‘linchpin’ of the fraud.

Maish, who has competed under the nickname ‘Mr Magic’ against darts stars such as 16-times world champion Phil Taylor, was jailed for two years - and has been disqualified from being a director for three years.

A three-year investigation found former HMRC employee Green had used her position working in the Electronic Payments Team in Southend, to identify unallocated VAT payments and fraudulently pay them elsewhere. The investigation found that Arthur Lee, 55, from Hornchurch - who was in a relationship with Green - received details from her and passed them to unqualified accountants Michael Perry 46, from Hornchurch, and Daniel Weidner, 47, from Hampshire.

They then used their clients’ companies to claim the VAT payments for themselves. Maish, who had businesses registered in Leigh, Arthur Lee and Londoner Michael Myatt, 56, allowed their identities and companies to be used as part of the fraud.

The investigation came to light when a legitimate taxpayer queried why their payment to HMRC had not credited its VAT account. Sentencing Green, Her Honour Judge Joanna Korner said Green had demonstrated a “colossal breach of trust”. Confiscation proceedings to recover the gang’s profits are ongoing.