‘Baby Reindeer’s’ Alleged ‘Real Martha’ Sues Netflix, Demanding at Least $170 Million in Damages (2024)

The Scottish woman who claims to be the inspiration for Richard Gadd’s hit NetflixBaby Reindeer” has sued the streamer, seeking monetary damages of at least $170 million.

Fiona Harvey has publicly said the character of Martha in “Baby Reindeer,” played by Jessica Gunning (pictured above), is based on her. She is suing Netflix, alleging defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and violations of her right of publicity.

The suit was filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Copy of Harvey’s complaint is at this link.

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Harvey’s lawsuit alleges Netflix told “brutal lies” about her in the “Baby Reindeer” series.

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“The lies that Defendants told about Harvey to over 50 million people worldwide include that Harvey is a twice-convicted stalker who was sentenced to five years in prison, and that Harvey sexually assaulted Gadd,” her complaint says. “Defendants told these lies, and never stopped, because it was a better story than the truth, and better stories made money.”

The lawsuit continues, “As a result of Defendants’ lies, malfeasance and utterly reckless misconduct, Harvey’s life had been ruined. Simply, Netflix and Gadd destroyed her reputation, her character and her life.”

In a statement, a Netflix rep said: “We intend to defend this matter vigorously and to stand by Richard Gadd’s right to tell his story.”

Asked for comment on Harvey’s allegations, a rep for Gadd cited the statement issued by Netflix. Gadd is not named as a defendant in Harvey’s lawsuit.

The first episode of “Baby Reindeer” says at the beginning, “This is a true story.” Harvey’s lawsuit claims that “is the biggest lie in television history. It is a lie told by Netflix and the show’s creator, Richard Gadd, out of greed and lust for fame; a lie designed to attract more viewers, get more attention, to make more money, and to viciously destroy the life of Plaintiff, Fiona Harvey — an innocent woman defamed by Netflix and Richard Gadd at a magnitude and scale without precedent.”

“Baby Reindeer,” which is based on Gadd’s one-man Edinburgh Festival play, launched on Netflix worldwide on April 11 and quickly became a monster hit on the streamer. In the show, Gadd plays a fictionalized version of himself named Donny Dunn. The seven-episode limited series follows Dunn as he attempts to graduate from barman to comedian, on the way attracting a rabid female stalker called Martha who sends him thousands of emails and harasses his family and girlfriend.

Although Gadd said in interviews he had changed identifying details about the real-life Martha, internet sleuths quickly honed in on Harvey’s social-media accounts, which had interacted frequently with Gadd during the period the show is set and even shared specific phrases used in the show, such as an innuendo-laden quip about “hanging [Martha’s] curtains.” Like the fictional Martha, Harvey is brunette, plus-size and Scottish with a legal background and a history of stalking.

“Popular internet forums such as Redditt and TikTok had thousands of users identifying and discussing Harvey as the real ‘Martha,'” according to Harvey’s lawsuit. ”The identification of Harvey as ‘Martha’ was easy and took a matter of days as Harvey’s identity was completely undisguised.”

Shortly after the show came out, Harvey made an appearance on Piers Morgan’s YouTube show, where she said she was considering taking legal action against both Gadd and Netflix. She denied sending Gadd 41,000 emails, as was depicted in “Baby Reindeer,” telling told Morgan the series is “a work of hyperbole.”

Harvey’s lawsuit alleges that “Netflix, a multinational billion-dollar entertainment streaming company, did literally nothing to confirm the ‘true story’ that Gadd told.”

Through the lawsuit, Harvey is seeking more than $170 million from Netflix, including: at least $50 million for actual damages; at least $50 million in compensatory damages for “mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of business”; at least $50 million “for all profits from ‘Baby Reindeer'”; and at least $20 million in punitive damages. Those amounts do not include legal fees or costs, per the complaint.

According to the lawsuit, Harvey earned a degree of bachelor of laws from the University of Aberdeen in 1990, a diploma in legal practice from the University of Strathclyde in 1993 and was granted an entrance certificate to the Law Society of Scotland in 1997. In 2005, Harvey earned her graduate diploma in law from the University of Westminster, the lawsuit says.

Earlier this week, Netflix reached an agreement with Linda Fairstein, the former Manhattan prosecutor involved in the Central Park Five case, settling her defamation lawsuit against Netflix and Ava DuVernay over 2019 docuseries “When They See Us.” Fairstein filed suit in 2020, alleging that she was falsely portrayed as a racist who orchestrated the convictions of five innocent young men. As part of the settlement, Netflix agreed to donate $1 million to the Innocence Project; Fairstein will not receive money. Netflix also agreed to add a disclaimer to run at the beginning of the show: “While the motion picture is inspired by actual events and persons, certain characters, incidents, locations, dialogue, and names are fictionalized for the purposes of dramatization.”

‘Baby Reindeer’s’ Alleged ‘Real Martha’ Sues Netflix, Demanding at Least $170 Million in Damages (2024)

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