News organisations were tipped off about the alleged kidnapping of British model Chloe Ayling at an early stage and police asked for the information to be kept quiet in order to avoid hampering their investigation, it has emerged.
An email detailing the abduction was sent to Ayling’s agent, the Daily Mirror, the Sun and a journalist working for Channel 4’s Dispatches programme on 13 July, which was two days after she was kidnapped.
The Sun and the Mirror have since reported images that appeared to show Ayling in a dazed state on the floor were attached to the email. The text said she was “for sale by Russian mafia”.
The Sun said its journalists did not initially notice the emails but a spokesperson for Channel 4 said police contacted them and asked them not to publish the information. A spokesperson said: “A member of an independent production company known to make films for the Dispatches strand was speculatively contacted, along with other news organisations, about this story by an anonymous source.
“On the same day, they were approached by the police who asked them not to publish any details regarding Chloe Ayling as the investigation was still live. Dispatches adhered to this request following consultation with our own legal team.”
The Daily Mirror confirmed that the email had arrived two days after the date of the alleged kidnapping, but denied there was any attempt to sell the story, as the Telegraph has reported. “There was nothing in the email to suggest it was from the alleged kidnappers, nor was it an attempt to sell a story about a kidnap. We contacted the modelling agency copied into the email, but our call was not returned. No further emails were received.”
Ayling told police she went to Italy on the promise of a photoshoot in July. She said she was kidnapped when she arrived and held at a remote location for six days. The model said she was told she would be sold as a slave to people in the Middle East, but released after telling her captor that she had a young child.
Lukasz Pawel Herba, a Polish national who lives in Britain, was arrested by Italian police after he escorted Ayling to the British consulate in Milan.
The UK’s National Crime Agency, which is assisting local police, declined to comment on the reports about the email.