An ITV newsreader has said that he has a “growing feeling” that the Chloe Ayling kidnapping story “isn’t going to end well”.
Alastair Stewart, a veteran news presenter, who has worked for ITN since 1980, tweeted about the model, who was allegedly drugged and abducted after being duped into attending a bogus photoshoot in Milan.
Ayling says she was abducted on July 11 in the Italian city by a group calling itself Black Death. The 20-year-old’s captors allegedly wanted to auction her as a sex slave online, but released her after six days.
Replying to a tweet about his doubts, Stewart replied: “Instinct & it being August,” in reference to the what journalists refer to as the summer “silly season” for news.
It has emerged that Ayling, from Coulsdon, south London, went shopping for groceries and shoes with an alleged kidnapper Lukasz Herba, a 30-year-old Polish national, who has since been arrested.
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Chloe Ayling’s lawyer: Anyone who doesn’t believe kidnapped model’s story is ‘evil’
Questions have now been raised about whether or not the model was truly held captive, or if the pair may have collaborated in a fake kidnapping.
However, Ayling’s lawyer, Francesco Pesce, has said suggestions that she colluded with her captors are “evil”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday, he said Ayling was acting under duress and was too scared to try to escape.
The mother-of-one was drugged, packed into a zipped bag and driven in a car boot to a remote Italian farmhouse in the village of Borgial, near Turin.
Pesce said: “She was stuffed in a black sports bag like she was an object, and transported over winding, unpaved roads for more than two hours… bound hand and foot and with tape across her mouth.”
Pesce said her captors planned to sell her in the Middle East for sex, but she was released after six days.
Ayling reportedly told police she developed a “trusting relationship” with her alleged abductor, Herba, who lives in Oldbury, West Midlands.
“From the second night he took the cuffs from my feet, assuring me that sooner or later I’d be freed so I had no need to escape,” she told police.
“From that moment I always slept in his room, sharing the bed. To be clear, he didn’t molest me sexually or ask for sexual favours.”
Herba, who has been arrested on kidnapping charges, reportedly tried to sell his story to a British newspaper while holding Ayling captive.
Pesce said police initially had “more than understandable doubts” about the model’s story.
He said: “It seems incredible. A man kidnaps, together with others, a girl, and after a week, citing particular reasons, accompanies her inside a consulate … [and] practically hands her over to police
“This at first was doubted by investigators but the story later turned out to be true.”