Baby Reindeer's 'real-life Martha' sues Netflix for $170M over defamation and emotional distress

7 June 2024, 09:31

Baby Reindeer's 'real-life Martha' sues Netflix for $170M over defamation and emotional distress
Baby Reindeer's 'real-life Martha' sues Netflix for $170M over defamation and emotional distress. Picture: Alamy

By Danielle De Wolfe

A woman who claims to have inspired Baby Reindeer's Martha is suing Netflix for $170 million over claims the series spread "brutal lies" and suggested she was imprisoned for stalking.

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Fiona Harvey, 58, who claims to be the inspiration behind the show's character 'Martha', is suing the streaming service for $170 million (£133 million) as part of a lawsuit filed in California.

It's the latest twist in the Baby Reindeer saga, comedian Richard Gadd’s hit television series which has remained one of Netflix's top 10 most streamed programmes for the past 8 weeks.

Ms Harvey's lawsuit claims her reputation was tarred after the series suggested she was a "twice convicted stalker who was sentenced to five years in prison".

Depicted by Jessica Gunning, Gadd's real-life stalker was previously accused of harassing two of Scotland’s leading politicians - including First Minister Donald Dewar.

Ms Harvey's lawsuit claims her reputation was tarred after the series suggested she was a "twice convicted stalker who was sentenced to five years in prison".
Ms Harvey's lawsuit claims her reputation was tarred after the series suggested she was a "twice convicted stalker who was sentenced to five years in prison". Picture: Netflix

Fiona Harvey has repeatedly denied being a stalker, having previously described the series as "a work of fiction".

The documents, filed at a Californian federal court, accuse Netflix of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, gross negligence, and violations of her right of publicity.

Online sleuths attempted to track the real life Martha, with Ms Harvey claiming she has been sent death threats from strangers following the release of the show.

“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 suit says.

"Defendants told these lies, and never stopped, because it was a better story than the truth, and better stories made money," states the filing.

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"As a result of defendants' lies, malfeasance and utterly reckless misconduct, Harvey's life had been ruined."

The documents, filed at a Californian federal court, accuse Netflix of defamation following the success of Gadd's series
The documents, filed at a Californian federal court, accuse Netflix of defamation following the success of Gadd's series. Picture: Netflix

As part of the hit series, Martha begins stalking Gadd, who plays Donny Dunn in the series, after he serves her a free cup of tea in a North London pub.

Gadd had previously asked fans to stop trying to uncover the real individual behind the character after social media sleuths attempted to track her down.

He later told the Hollywood Reporter he would have made it a documentary if he wanted people to be found.

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