Fiona Harvey sues Netflix over 'Baby Reindeer,' says she's the real Martha

Jessica Gunning and Richard Gadd at the photo call for "Baby Reindeer" held at the DGA Theater Complex on May 7, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Variety via Getty Images)

Fiona Harvey, the woman who says she’s the inspiration for Netflix’s hit show "Baby Reindeer," has sued the streaming service for defamation and is seeking $170 million in damages, according to the lawsuit filed in California. 

Scottish comedian Richard Gadd created and stars in "Baby Reindeer," which premiered on Netflix on April 11 and quickly became one of the streaming service’s most popular shows. 

Gadd plays a doppelganger named Donny Dunn, who in his day job at a pub gives Martha, a quick-to-laugh customer, a free cup of tea. 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 and gouges his eyes, sexually assaults him and eventually is arrested and sent to prison.

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"This is a true story," the show states in the first episode. 

The lawsuit, however, calls it "the biggest lie in television history." 

"It is a lie told by Netflix and the show’s creator, Richard Gadd, out of greed and lust for fame; a lie designed to attract more viewers, get more attention, to make more money, and to viciously destroy the life of … Fiona Harvey," the lawsuit states. 


A photo of Jessica Gunning as "Martha" in Baby Reindeer next to Fiona Harvey, the woman who says she inspired Netflix's hit show (federal lawsuit filed in California)

According to the lawsuit, Harvey was identified as Martha in a "matter of days" because of a Tweet she posted tagging Gadd. The tweet was referenced in the show as a sexual innuendo. 

"After being identified, the press in London began to contact Harvey, and the hatred towards Harvey on Internet forums such as Reddit and TikTok reached extreme levels including death threats," the lawsuit states. 

Netflix was not immediately available for comment, but the streamer told The Washington Post it intends "to defend this matter vigorously and to stand by Richard Gadd’s right to tell his story." 

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Netflix executive Benjamin King testified before a UK parliamentary committee in May, when the company faced questions about the show’s duty-of-care standards. King said "Baby Reindeer" is "obviously a true story of the horrific abuse that the writer and protagonist Richard Gadd suffered at the hands of a convicted stalker," according to BBC


Jessica Gunning and Richard Gadd attend SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversations "Baby Reindeer" at SAG-AFTRA Foundation Robin Williams Center on June 06, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by John Nacion/Getty Images)

Lawmakers in the UK said there was no evidence of any criminal convictions for the woman who inspired the show, and Harvey says the same in her lawsuit. 

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

In an interview with Piers Morgan, Harvey said she had sent "a handful" of emails and fewer than two dozen tweets in which she tagged Gadd. Gadd claims he has roughly 41,000 emails from her, but Harvey said it would be nearly impossible to send so many. 

Harvey is seeking a jury trial in California, according to the lawsuit.