Claims that British glamour model was involved in the plot to kidnap her and sell her as a sex slave are “evil”, her lawyer has said.
Chloe Ayling’s account of her week being held by a shadowy online gang called the Black Death seem “incredible”, Francesco Pesce admitted, but insisted the facts are true as proven by the fact they have been accepted by the Italian police and lawyers.
Miss Ayling, 20, says she was drugged, handcuffed and stuffed in a suitcase in a boot before being driven to a remote Italian farmhouse where she was held for a week.
She was later told that it had been a mistake as she had a young son, and Lukasz Pawel Herba, 30, took her to the British Consulate in Milan to release her. The day before her release she had been spotted shoe shopping with Herba, who is now being held in a high security prison in Milan.
Mr Pesce said: “I have heard people doubting her and implying that she was somewhat involved in this because it was too easy an escape and that I really cannot believe that people think that about Chloe Ayling, she was subject to a tremendous ordeal and she suffered so much and she had to relive this once, twice, three times…
“How could you think that she was involved in this? That’s just evil.”
Miss Ayling, who friends say has wanted to be a glamour model since the age of 15, returned to the UK and was due on Tuesday to appear in her first Page 3 shoot since her release.
However, her photoshoot with a tabloid newspaper was canceled after she hired celebrity agent Mark Cowne, whose clients include Desmond Tutu, Sir Bob Geldof, Alan Yentob and Claudia Schiffer among a host of others.
Her former agent Phil Green, who kidnappers had contacted and demanding a ransom of $300,000 (£270,000), said that he was “shell shocked” and had been unable to contact Miss Ayling.
But he also dismissed speculation that she had any involvement in the kidnapping, saying: “I would certainly defend her by saying first of all that we had a flight home booked and she had paid for her own flight to fly to Ibiza the next evening.
“But the third thing that completely blows that out of the water is that she would never agree to having her photograph taken without her being completely made up, and instead a photograph was taken of her and put out when she was drugged and completely unconscious. She certainly would never have agreed to that. ”
A photographer going by the name Andrew Lazio – who they now know to be Herba – had originally booked her for a shoot, purporting to be with a motorbike brand, in Paris on April 21.
But the night before she was due to meet him at the studio, policeman Xavier Jugelé was shot dead on the Champs-Elysées in an Isil inspired attack.
He canceled the shoot claiming his equipment had been stolen, only to meet her later in the day to give her some money for her expenses for the day.
At the time, Mr Green believed that he “ticked all the boxes”, but he now thinks that the Paris ‘shoot’ was canceled as there were too many police swarming the area.
Mr Green said: “It was the same time as the terror attack on the Champs-Elysées, and his studio was very close by and there and there was a lot of police activity.”
It is understood that police in Italy are hunting for at least one accomplice in the abduction.
A police spokesman in Milan declined to confirm that a search for other men involved in the kidnapping was underway.
Nor would he say whether police had any doubts about Ms Ayling’s story.
“All we can say is that we are continuing the investigation, it is still very much active,” he said.
“We are proceeding with great care and discretion. We have nothing more to say at this point and no statements to release.”