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27th Jul 2023

Model who was kidnapped and put up for sale on dark web ‘lucky’ to have escaped

Steve Hopkins

People were highly sceptical about Chloe’s ordeal

Filming is reportedly underway on the Chloe Ayling story.

The BBC is making a six-part series called Kidnapped, telling the story of the 21-year-old glamour model who was abducted and held for six days in 2017.

Nadia Parkes will play Chloe, who was in Celebrity Big Brother in 2018, The Mirror reported.

Chloe, now 26, was lured to Milan by Polish national Lukasz Herba with the promise of modelling work, only to be drugged and kidnapped.

The mum-of-one from Surrey went on to claim she had been injected with the tranquilliser ketamine, stuffed into a holdall bag and driven 120 miles in a car boot to a remote farmhouse near Turin.

Chloe said she had been gagged, was unconscious for much of the journey, and was later told she would be auctioned as a sex slave on the dark web for €300,000 (£265,000).

The story left many questioning the legitimacy of her story, especially after CCTV footage emerged showing her seemingly holding her kidnapper’s hand while out in an Italian village.

The model was released on July 17 at the British consulate in Milan, after she reportedly convinced her captors to let her go because she was a mother.

Polish national, Lukasz Herba, and his brother, Michal Herba, were subsequently jailed after an Italian court convicted them of kidnapping.

Chloe later recalled her story to the media, saying she: “Feared for my life, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour.”

Speaking to This Morning’s Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford, she recalled: “I walked into the studio and there was just silence.

“Normally someone would greet you at the door but I just didn’t hear anything. Before I had time to process my thoughts, that’s exactly when the masked man put his arm around my neck and mouth… and another one came to the front of me and injected me in my wrists.”

When she came to, Chloe says she found herself in the boot of a car in a zip-up bag. “I had tape on my mouth and handcuffs on my feet and my hands,” she revealed.

Piers Morgan later questioned Chloe on Good Morning Britain: “It’s not insignificant to be going shopping with the alleged kidnapper and buying new shoes.”

When she protested, he said: “If you’re going to conduct media interviews where you’re being paid money, and you’re doing a book for thousands of pounds before there’s even been a trial, I think we’re perfectly entitled to ask you difficult questions.”

Chloe insisted: “It will all come out in the end.”

The BBC says the dramatisation follows Chloe’s “terrifying kidnap, her bravery and resilience in captivity, and the subsequent court case that put her kidnappers in jail.

“Yet despite their convictions, Chloe faced headlines accusing her of faking her own kidnapping, and found herself at the centre of a media storm.”

“The series asks why Chloe was blamed for her kidnappers’ crimes. How do we relate to survivors of crime who make the front pages? And how does it feel to be an ordinary person, caught up in events so extraordinary that you aren’t believed?”

The series, written by George Lester who worked on Killing Eve, brings the ordeal and court case to screen by drawing on legal documents, Chloe’s published diary and extensive interviews.

Lester said: “Every moment that I have spent researching this series and spending time with Chloe, learning about the ordeal she suffered both by the men who abducted her and the people who doubted her, has been shocking and infuriating. “It’s been an honour to work with Chloe and I can’t wait for audiences to finally see her courage, her charm and her unwavering resilience.”

The BBC Three series will be directed by Without Sin’s Al Mackay, and produced by Viewpoint’s Clare Shepherd.

Filming is reportedly due to start later this year.

Speaking about Kidnapped, Chloe said: “I am excited that BBC Studios are telling my story and that the wider world will get to know the truth about what happened to me and learn of the many details that weren’t brought to light originally.”

Meanwhile, Nadia, who has starred in The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself, said of her casting: “This is a timely and important story about how we perceive trauma in the media.”

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Chloe Ayling

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