Baby Reindeer: 'Real-life' Martha Fiona Harvey sues Netflix for $170 ...

7 Jun 2024
Fiona Harvey

A Scottish woman who claims to have inspired the character of ‘Martha’ in Netflix superhit ‘Baby Reindeer’ has sued the streaming platform for $170 million, accusing the platform of defamation, emotional distress, and negligence.

Fiona Harvey has identified herself as the character ‘Martha’ who is portrayed as a violent, abusive, and deceptive stalker at the centre of the seven-part series that claims to be “a true story” in its opening episode. What unfolds in the following episodes is a disturbing ordeal in which 'Martha' stalks 'Donny' (Richard's character), sending multiple emails and messages as she harasses him, his girlfriend, and his family. 'Martha' even sexually assaults 'Donny' in a scene by the canal.

The lawsuit, which claims $170 million in damages, alleged, “The above quote... is the biggest lie in television history."

Harvey maintained her innocence, claiming that she has not sexually assaulted Richard Gadd, the creator and protagonist of Baby Reindeer. She also denied being criminally convicted for stalking, alleging that Netflix ”told these lies, and never stopped, because it was a better story than the truth, and better stories made money”.

The lawsuit included an image of a background check and certificate declaring that Harvey has no criminal convictions on her record.

Martha, the character from Baby Reindeer, is a convicted felon due to prior accounts of stalking and is later arrested when Gadd's character files a complaint. In the series, she stalks him, sending 41,000 emails and leaving 350 hours of voicemail messages. She is also shown to have sexually assaulted him.

The end credits of 'Baby Reindeer' claimed that the program "is based on real events: however certain characters, names, incidents, locations, and dialogue have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes”.

However, Harvey claimed that there were no attempts made to secure her identity. She has come forward to say that she has been receiving death threats which have left her "fearful of leaving her home or checking the news", and being "extremely secluded and isolated, in fear of the public, going days without leaving her home". The lawsuit claimed that Netflix has used some of the real comments she made to Gadd, even including certain tweets from 2014.

Richard Gadd has told journalists that he attempted to protect Harvey's identity, even urging viewers not to accuse any individuals. To his dread, internet sleuths tracked down Fiona Harvey, contacting her on social media.

On behalf of Netflix, a spokesperson told ABC News, "We intend to defend this matter vigorously and to stand by Richard Gadd's right to tell his story."

Baby Reindeer premiered on Netflix on April 11, 2024, immediately being recognized globally for what has been described as an extremely nuanced and honest expression of trauma. The creators, including Richard Gadd himself, have previously expressed their delight and surprise at the success of the show.

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