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Woman who says she’s the real Martha from ‘Baby Reindeer’ sues Netflix for defamation
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Woman who says she’s the real Martha from ‘Baby Reindeer’ sues Netflix for defamation

  • PublishedJune 7, 2024



A woman who says she is the inspiration for the relentless stalker at the center of Netflix’s “Baby Reindeer” sued the streaming giant Thursday for defamation and is seeking at least $170 million in damages.

Fiona Harvey, a Scottish attorney living in England who says the character Martha on the widely viewed limited series is clearly based on her, filed the lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles that also alleges that Netflix was negligent, intentionally subjected her to emotional distress and violated her right to publicity.

On the British black comedy based on a one-man stage show by Richard Gadd. Gadd plays a doppelganger named Donny Dunn, who in his day job at a pub gives Martha, a quick-to-laugh customer, a free cup of tea. She eventually becomes a stalker who sends him tens of thousands of emails, tweets at him hundreds of times, smashes a bottle over his head and gouges his eyes, sexually assaults him and eventually is arrested and sent to prison.

None of this actually happened, according to the lawsuit.

“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,” the lawsuit says. “Defendants told these lies, and never stopped, because it was a better story than the truth, and better stories made money.”

Harvey also never previously stalked a police officer, as Gadd’s character learns on the show, the lawsuit says.

Netflix responded with a statement saying, “We intend to defend this matter vigorously and to stand by Richard Gadd’s right to tell his story.”

The lawsuit alleges the streamer did nothing to determine whether the stalking, assault, and convictions were accurate, nor did it do anything to understand the actual relationship between Harvey and Gadd.

“Netflix and Gadd destroyed her reputation, her character and her life,” the suit says.

Gadd is not named as a defendant, but emails sent seeking comment from attorneys representing him were not immediately returned.

The show premiered on Netflix in April, and Harvey publicly came forward and gave an interview to journalist Piers Morgan about a month later. But the lawsuit says viewers and British media outlets had identified her well before that, and they have tormented her constantly since.

This was possible, the lawsuit says, because on the show Martha creates social media posts identical to searchable posts by Harvey, including one in which she says, “my curtains need hung badly,” which is used as a sexual euphemism on the show.

The lawsuit also alleges that Harvey bears an “uncanny resemblance” to Martha, saying her “accent, manner of speaking and cadence” are “indistinguishable.”

The lawsuit says that the series’ claim at the beginning of its first episode that it’s a true story is “the biggest lie in television history” and that its defamation of Harvey is “at a magnitude and scale without precedent.”

Harvey is seeking all profits from “Baby Reindeer” and asks that punitive and other damages be awarded that would total at least $170 million.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.



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