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Mr Ridley was accused of conspiring with the two bank officials to obtain a 1 million loan under false pretences.

The money was to be lent to Mr Cornelius to invest in a variety of projects, including buying a Canadian oil refinery to rebuild it in Pakistan, and Mr Fitzwilliam's ambitious plans for a polo, equestrian, hotel and luxury villa complex in the desert outside Dubai.

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He dismissed defence claims about their motivation, saying they did it for money.

Blyth, of Worthing Road, Southwater, Horsham, pleaded guilty. Nelson, of Cotswold Court, Horsham, denied blackmail, but was convicted after a trial.

A spokesman for the families of Mr Cornelius and Mr Ridley said the sentence was "vindictive" and that friends feared they had become scapegoats for the bursting of Dubai's government-fuelled property boom.

TWO blackmailers have been jailed for their “well-planned” and “targeted” bid to force a York area businessman to hand over £10,000.

The two men, along with a Dubai-based British property developer, Arthur Fitzwilliam, who was acquitted, and two Pakistani officials of the Dubai Islamic Bank were arrested in mid-2008.