‘Baby Reindeer’ Inspiration Fiona Harvey Sues Netflix For At Least $170 Million

Fiona Harvey—the real-life woman who inspired the hit Netflix show “Baby Reindeer”—filed a lawsuit against Netflix alleging defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence, demanding at least $170 million in damages.
LA Photo Call for "Baby Reindeer"

Richard Gadd, center, the creator and star of “Baby Reindeer,” poses with cast members Jessica Gunning, left, and Nava Mau at a photo call for the Netflix miniseries at the Directors Guild of America on May 7.

2024 Invision

Key Facts

The lawsuit alleges that Netflix saying “this is a true story”—which appears in episode one of the series—“is the biggest lie in television history” and was made “out of greed and lust for fame.”

The suit describes “brutal lies” told about Harvey, including that she is a twice convicted stalker who was sentenced to prison and sexually assaulted Richard Gadd, the show’s creator and star, and says Netflix “failed to use reasonable care to determine the truth or falsity of the statements.”

Harvey claims she has never been convicted of a crime, pleaded guilty to a crime, been to prison, sexually assaulted or had a sexual encounter with Gadd, stalked a police officer or attacked Gadd.

Harvey’s suit—which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California—includes messages she has received on social media from people who easily identified her as the inspiration for “Martha,” a number of which asked whether she was “the stalker,” referenced content from the show and insulted her, leading to “emotional distress.”

Harvey is seeking at least $50 million for actual damages, $50 million for compensatory damages, $50 million for all profits of the show and $20 million for punitive damages.

Forbes has reached out to Gadd—who is not listed as a defendant—and Netflix for comment

Contra

Jessica Gunning, who portrayed Martha in the show, said in an interview that Netflix and Gadd “went to extreme lengths to try and make sure that the identities were kept private for a reason,” and discouraged people from trying to find the real Martha.

Crucial Quote

“Defendants told these lies, and never stopped, because it was a better story than the truth, and better stories made money,” the lawsuit reads. “As a result of Defendants’ lies, malfeasance and utterly reckless misconduct, Harvey’s life had been ruined. Simply, Netflix and Gadd destroyed her reputation, her character and her life.”

Big Number

56 million. That’s how many times “Baby Reindeer” had been viewed as of May 8, according to the lawsuit.

Key Background

“Baby Reindeer” is a seven-episode limited series from Netflix that was released in April and is a recreation of a one-man show from Gadd based on his experience of being stalked and sexually assaulted years ago. The series debuted in the No. 5 spot on Netflix’s weekly television chart and then spent three weeks at No. 1. Fans of the show became captivated with finding who Martha was based on and it didn’t take long for them to identify Harvey, at least in part because of searchable social media exchanges Harvey and Gadd had and the lack of characteristics changed about Harvey, according to the suit. Harvey broke her silence in early May and appeared on Piers Morgan’s talk show, though Morgan was criticized for interviewing a woman viewers said was “mentally unwell.”

Tangent

For the week of May 27 to June 2, “Baby Reindeer” was still on Netflix’s global top 10 most-watched television shows, landing at No. 10, with 2.8 million views.

This article was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.

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