They went on the run at about 5.30pm, after fleeing from Manchester Crown Court, where they were being guarded by prison officers. It is not known how they got away.
The men included Alan Lord, 31, who is alleged to have been one of the ringleaders of the riot three years ago, which took 25 days to suppress and caused millions of pounds damage.
The others who escaped are Mark Azzopardi, 23, Barry Morton, 23, John Murray, 24, and Anthony Bush, 27.
The five are among 12 defendants who have been on trial since last October.
A Home Office spokesman said last night: 'This escape is regarded as a very serious matter and the director-general of the Prison Service, Derek Lewis, has ordered an immediate and urgent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the escape.'Reuse content