Woman Sues Netflix Over Defamation in “Baby Reindeer” Character

A woman has filed a defamation lawsuit against Netflix, claiming that a character in the drama “Baby Reindeer” was modeled after her and falsely suggested that she was a convicted stalker. Fiona Harvey, the plaintiff, argues that the show has tarnished her reputation and caused her significant distress.

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Richard Gadd and Jessica Gunning in Baby Reindeer
Photo: Ed Miller/Netflix

In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, Harvey’s lawyers assert that she has never been convicted of any crime, nor has she committed the offenses depicted in the series. The lawsuit highlights that the show begins with the statement “This is a true story,” which Harvey’s legal team calls “the biggest lie in television history.”

“Baby Reindeer,” created by comedian Richard Gadd, features a character named Martha, played by Jessica Gunning, who harasses aspiring comedian Donny Dunn, portrayed by Gadd, through emails and voicemails. The show’s credits include a disclaimer stating, “This program is based on real events: however certain characters, names, incidents, locations, and dialogue have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes.”

Harvey’s lawsuit seeks tens of millions of dollars in damages for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence. She claims that the show has led to her being publicly identified as the real-life inspiration for Martha, resulting in harassment and fear for her safety.

Netflix has stated, “We intend to defend this matter vigorously and to stand by Richard Gadd’s right to tell his story.” Both Netflix and Gadd maintain that efforts were made to disguise the character’s identity. However, Harvey alleges that internet users quickly uncovered her identity, leading to her being tormented and afraid to leave her home.

“Baby Reindeer” has been a major success for Netflix, amassing over 56 million views in its first four weeks. Despite its popularity, the series has sparked controversy. A British lawmaker questioned Netflix about its “duty of care” following complaints from Harvey, who publicly discussed her grievances in an interview with Piers Morgan, calling the show a “work of fiction.”

As part of her legal filing, Harvey presented evidence, including a certificate and background check report, demonstrating she has no criminal record. The lawsuit disputes the show’s depiction of Martha as a convicted stalker and contests a specific scene where Martha’s character sexually assaults Gadd’s character, an event Harvey insists never occurred.

Gadd has urged viewers to stop speculating about the real-life inspirations behind the show’s characters, stating on social media, “Please don’t speculate on who any of the real life people could be. That’s not the point of the show.”

The lawsuit raises important questions about the responsibilities of creators and streaming platforms when producing content based on real events and people, particularly concerning the impact on individuals portrayed in such works.

Written by Influencer Editorial Team

Managed By Influencer Team - United Kingdom

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