Lawyers for the US actor Jussie Smollett have denied he had any role in an assault last month he alleges was carried out by two white men. Their statement came after sources told US media that police believed he may have paid two Nigerian brothers to stage the attack on 29 January. The brothers, who worked as extras on Empire, the show Smollett starred in, have been questioned by Chicago police. Police have only said the “trajectory of the investigation” has shifted.