Lawsuit: Baby Reindeer Is the 'Biggest Lie in TV History'

Woman who says she was the inspiration for stalker character is suing Netflix for $170M
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 7, 2024 4:46 AM CDT
Woman Sues Netflix for $170M Over Baby Reindeer
Jessica Gunning and Richard Gadd from the Netflix series "Baby Reindeer" pose at The 92nd Street Y in New York on Wednesday.   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

A woman who says she was the inspiration for a character in Baby Reindeer is seeking a big payday from Netflix. Scottish woman Fiona Harvey filed a $170 million lawsuit against the streaming service in California on Thursday, saying she was the inspiration for the character Martha, but the claim Baby Reindeer is a true story is "the biggest lie in television history," the New York Times reports. She is seeking damages for alleged defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence, reports Variety.

  • In the hit show, which creator and star Richard Gadd has said was based on his own experiences, Martha is a convicted stalker who stalks a comedian after meeting him in the pub where he works. She sexually assaults the man in a scene in the second episode.

  • "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 states. "Defendants told these lies, and never stopped, because it was a better story than the truth, and better stories made money."
  • The lawsuit says the show has ruined Harvey's life. It states that Netflix did "literally nothing to confirm the 'true story' that Gadd told."
  • Harvey has publicly identified herself as the inspiration for the character, though neither Netflix nor Gadd have confirmed it, the BBC reports. In an interview with Piers Morgan last month, she said she knew Gadd when he worked in a pub, but they only exchanged a few "jokey banter emails." In Baby Reindeer, the Martha character sends Gadd's character 41,000 emails and leaves hundreds of hours of voicemail messages.
  • "Like 'Martha,' Harvey is a Scottish lawyer, living in London, twenty years older than Gadd, was accused of stalking a lawyer in a newspaper article, and who bears an uncanny resemblance to 'Martha,'" the lawsuit states, per NBC News.
  • A disclaimer in the show's credits states that "certain characters, names, incidents, locations, and dialogue have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes." Gadd told the Guardian last month that he was "severely stalked" and the series is "very emotionally true," but he "tweaked slightly to create dramatic climaxes." "We wanted it to exist in the sphere of art, as well as protect the people it's based on," he said.
  • "We intend to defend this matter vigorously and to stand by Richard Gadd's right to tell his story," a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement.
(More Netflix stories.)

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