Lawyer: British model Chloe Ayling's dark web kidnapping story was a sham

LONDON, Sept 25 (Reuters) - The lawyer for a man accused of being part of a plot to kidnap a British model in Italy, told a London court on Monday there were grounds to suspect the whole case was a sham.

Model Chloe Ayling, 20, has told Italian police she was lured to a photo shoot in Milan in July, abducted and held captive for six days. Her lawyer said the plot was to sell the model for sex in an online auction unless a ransom was paid.

See photos of Ayling: 

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Model says she was kidnapped, put up for sale on web
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Model says she was kidnapped, put up for sale on web
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In August, Italian police arrested the alleged kidnapper, Lukasz Pawel Herba, 30, and subsequently British police detained his Polish-born brother Michal in central England on behalf of the Italian authorities.

Michal Herba, 36, is fighting extradition to Italy and at a hearing at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday, his lawyer George Hepburne Scott said the Italian authorities had failed to provide any details of what Herba is accused of having done.

"There are reasonable grounds to believe that the entire case is a sham," Hepburne Scott said, adding that there were a "unique set" of anomalies in the case which "may lead to the conclusion that the Italian authorities have been duped and that their process had been abused."

At the last hearing in August, Florence Iveson, the prosecutor acting on behalf of the Italian authorities, said the two brothers were accused of abducting, kidnapping and detaining Ayling between July 11 and 17 and demanding a ransom of 300,000 euros ($352,000).

Since her return to Britain, Ayling has given a number of TV and press interviews in which she said she was drugged, gagged, bound, stuffed into a bag, put into the boot of a car and driven to a village near Turin in northwest Italy.

She denied suggestions the case was a hoax, after it was reported in the media she had gone shopping with her alleged abductor. Ayling's spokesman was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Reuters.

Hepburne Scott listed a number of these reports but judge Paul Goldspring said because they had appeared in the media, it did not make them true.

"Some believe it to be a sham," the judge said. "This material doesn't prove that."

He added that he had no reason to believe that Herba would not receive a fair trial in Italy, and that the London court was not the place where evidence over Herba's involvement should be directly assessed.

See photos from the case: 

18 PHOTOS
British model kidnapped in Italy
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British model kidnapped in Italy
A person taking part in a reenactment by Italian police shows how a kidnapped British model was kept in a bag, in this handout picture provided by the Italian Police in Milan on August 5, 2017. Polizia Di Stato/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. PICTURE WAS MASKED AT SOURCE.
A bag used to keep a kidnapped British model prisoner is seen in this August 5, 2017 handout picture provided by the Italian Police in Milan. Polizia Di Stato/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A vehicle used in the kidnapping of a British model is seen in this August 5, 2017 handout picture provided by the Italian Police in Milan. Polizia Di Stato/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. PICTURE MASKED AT SOURCE.
Lukasz Pawel Herba, the suspected kidnapper of a British model, is seen in this August 5, 2017 handout picture provided by the Italian Police in Milan. Polizia Di Stato/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A screenshot of an internet page on a laptop belonging to Lukasz Pawel Herba, the suspected kidnapper of a British model, shows a balaclava purchase, in this August 5, 2017 handout picture provided by the Italian Police in Milan. Polizia Di Stato/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A fake identity card with a different name belonging to Lukasz Pawel Herba, the suspected kidnapper of a British model, is seen in this August 5, 2017 handout picture provided by the Italian Police in Milan. The text on right read, "Purchased on the Internet. Fake identity card." Polizia Di Stato/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A bag used to keep a kidnapped British model prisoner is seen in this August 5, 2017 handout picture provided by the Italian Police in Milan, Italy. Polizia Di Stato/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Items found at a fake studio where a British model was kidnapped are seen in this August 5, 2017 handout picture provided by the Italian Police in Milan, Italy. Polizia Di Stato/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Handcuffs used to keep a kidnapped British model prisoner is seen in this August 5, 2017 handout picture provided by the Italian Police in Milan, Italy. Polizia Di Stato/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A fake studio where a British model was kidnapped is seen in this August 5, 2017 handout picture provided by the Italian Police in Milan, Italy. Polizia Di Stato/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A vehicle, which police say was purchased in Poland and used in the kidnapping of a British model, is seen in this August 5, 2017 handout picture provided by the Italian Police in Milan, Italy. Polizia Di Stato/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. PICTURE MASKED AT SOURCE.
The interior of a house in a small village near Turin where police say a kidnapped British model was held, is seen in this August 5, 2017 handout picture provided by the Italian Police in Milan. Polizia Di Stato/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
The interior of a house in a small village near Turin where police say a kidnapped British model was held, is seen in this August 5, 2017 handout picture provided by the Italian Police in Milan. Polizia Di Stato/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
The exterior of a house in a small village near Turin where police say a kidnapped British model was held, is seen in this August 5, 2017 handout picture provided by the Italian Police in Milan. Polizia Di Stato/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A screenshot of a document on a laptop belonging to Lukasz Pawel Herba, the suspected kidnapper of a British model, shows information on the kidnapping and auctioning of girls, in this August 5, 2017 handout picture provided by the Italian Police in Milan. Polizia Di Stato/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A screenshot of a "Black Death Group" document on a laptop belonging to Lukasz Pawel Herba, the suspected kidnapper of a British model, is seen in this August 5, 2017 handout picture provided by the Italian Police in Milan. Polizia Di Stato/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A flyer for the "Black Death Group", which police say was found in a shop used as a pretend photographer's studio in Milan, where a British model was kidnapped, is seen in this August 5, 2017 handout picture provided by the Italian Police in Milan, Italy. The information on left, provided by Italian Police, reads, "During the kidnapping, Herba, using encrypted accounts, asked the model's agent to pay $300,000 to avoid auctioning her online. Herba pretended to be a member of the 'Black Death Group', an organisation of the deep web." Herba refers to arrested suspect Lukasz Pawel Herba. Polizia Di Stato/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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Herba faced questions over a partner he said was having his baby in October.

"For now, I cannot give her name, for she is heavily pregnant and that could add to her stress," Herba told the court via an interpreter.

He said that it was important for him to stay in Britain and have a role in bringing up the child. "I don't have a strong feeling that he must be lying," Goldspring said.

The case was adjourned, with a decision on extradition scheduled for Friday. (Writing by Michael Holden; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Andrew Heavens)

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