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Fiona Harvey appeared on Piers Morgan's Youtube show

Baby Reindeer's 'real Martha' Fiona Harvey sues Netflix for £132m

Fiona Harvey has said the character of Martha was based on her

Gemma Strong
Online Digital News Director
June 7, 2024
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There is a new twist in the Baby Reindeer saga. The real life 'Martha' has decided to file a $170m (£132m) lawsuit against Netflix.

Fiona Harvey has accused the streaming giant of defamation, negligence and emotional distress over the hit series.

It follows the phenomenal success of Baby Reindeer which was released in April, and stars 35-year-old Richard Gadd, a Scottish writer and actor who created the show based on his own experiences of being stalked.

Martha the character in Baby Reindeer© Netflix
The character of Martha in Baby Reindeer, is played by Jessica Gunning

Fiona has publicly said the character of Martha in Baby Reindeer, played by Jessica Gunning, is based on her. But she has denied being a stalker and has refuted claims that she sent Richard 41,000 emails, hundreds of voice messages and 106 letters.

The lawsuit, which names Netflix as a defendant, states: "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. Defendants told these lies, and never stopped, because it was a better story than the truth, and better stories made money."

It continued: "Netflix, a multi-national billion dollar entertainment streaming company did literally nothing to confirm the 'true story' that Gadd told. That is, it never investigated whether Harvey was convicted, a very serious misrepresentation of the facts. It did nothing to understand the relationship between Gadd and Harvey, if any … 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."

Harvey is seeking at least $50m for actual damages, at least $50m in compensatory damages for "mental anguish, loss of enjoyment and loss of business", at least $50m for "all profits from Baby Reindeer", as well as $20m for punitive damages.

Richard Gadd as Donny Dun in Baby Reindeer© Netflix
Richard Gadd as Donny Dun in Baby Reindeer

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." The comedian has not been named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

In an interview with the Guardian in April, Richard spoke of the series, saying that he "tweaked slightly to create dramatic climaxes".

“It's very emotionally true, obviously: I was severely stalked and severely abused. But we wanted it to exist in the sphere of art, as well as protect the people it's based on," he said.

Baby Reindeer is based on Richard Gadd’s one-man Edinburgh Festival play, and quickly became a monster hit on Netflix following its release. In the show, Richard  plays a fictionalised version of himself named Donny Dunn. The seven-episode series follows Dunn as he attempts to graduate from barman to comedian, all the while dealing with a female stalker called Martha who sends him thousands of emails and harasses his family and girlfriend.

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