1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Netflix sued after woman makes 'Baby Reindeer' claim

June 7, 2024

A Scottish woman has sued Netflix for at least $170 million, saying she was defamed over her portrayal in the series "Baby Reindeer."

Actress Jessica Gunning in a scene from Baby Reindeer
Actress Jessica Gunning plays Martha in Baby ReindeerImage: Netflix/Picturelux/IMAGO

A woman who claims she was the inspiration for the stalker in the hit Netflix miniseries "Baby Reindeer" sued the streaming giant on Thursday, seeking at least $170 million in damages.

Netflix accused of defamation, negligence 

Fiona Harvey accused Netflix of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, gross negligence and violations of her right of publicity in the lawsuit filed at the California federal court.

Harvey, a Scottish attorney who lives in England, has identified herself as the real-life "Martha," the delusional, violent and abusive woman — played by actress Jessica Gunning — at the center of Richard Gadd's global sensation.

The British black comedy claims in its opening episode to be "a true story."

"The above quote ... is the biggest lie in television history," the lawsuit states.

Harvey accused Netflix of spreading "brutal lies," including that she is a "twice convicted stalker who was sentenced to five years in prison."

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

She said many people couldn't tell the difference, and thousands of Reddit and TikTok users talk about her as the "real" Martha.

Netflix defends matter 'vigorously'

Netflix, in response to the lawsuit, said it intended to "defend this matter vigorously and to stand by Richard Gadd's right to tell his story."

The seven-episode series premiered on Netflix in April.

The show is based on Gadd's one-man play, and follows a fictionalized version of the author who meets the character Martha in the pub where he works.

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, gouges his eyes, sexually assaults him, and is finally arrested and sent to prison.

None of this actually happened, Harvey's lawsuit said.

Making Nigeria's popular web series 'Jagaban'

dvv/jsi (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)