Baby Reindeer: Woman Sues Netflix For $170 Million Over Martha Character

image source, Credit: Piers Morgan Uncensored

image caption, Piers Morgan appeared in the film uncensored after Fiona Harvey was said to have inspired the character of Martha.

  • author, Will Vernon and Max Matza
  • stock, BBC News

A Scottish woman who allegedly inspired the stalker character Martha in the hit Netflix drama Baby Reindeer is suing the streamer for defamation, negligence and breach of privacy.

Fiona Harvey – who identified herself as the woman based on Martha – has argued in a lawsuit that Netflix told “brutal lies” about her to more than 50 million viewers worldwide.

The suit, filed in a California court, seeks $170m (£132m) in damages for Ms Harvey. He claims the Baby Reindeer series misrepresented him as a convicted felon who spent time in prison for stalking.

Netflix has promised to “vigorously defend this matter.”

It said the show’s creator and star, Scottish comedian Richard Gott, stood by the right to “tell his story”.

Mr Cott wrote the series about his alleged experience of being stalked by a woman he met at the pub where he worked. He previously pleaded with fans to avoid trying to identify with Martha, a character he first portrayed in a stand-up comedy routine.

He was not named as a defendant in Ms. Harvey’s lawsuit.

Neither Mr Gadd nor Ms Harvey’s real names are used in the series, and neither Netflix nor Mr Gadd have confirmed that Martha is based on Ms Harvey.

While testifying before Parliament’s Culture Media and Sport Committee last month, Netflix executive Benjamin King said it was a “true story of the horrific abuse that author and protagonist Richard Cott suffered at the hands of a criminal”.

Mr King later challenged an MP – the SNP’s John Nicholson – to prove his statements. Mr Nicholson said there was “no evidence by journalists to support Netflix’s claim” of the conviction of the woman identified as the inspiration for Martha.

For her part, Ms. Harvey alleged in her lawsuit that Netflix “did nothing” to confirm that Mr. Gatt’s story was true.

Ms. Harvey denies she sexually assaulted the show’s creator, according to court documents, which allege Netflix “told these lies and never stopped because it was a better story than the truth, and better stories made money.”

In one scene of the series, the character Martha is depicted sexually assaulting the show’s protagonist on a canal one night.

Ms Harvey told BBC News on Thursday that she was confident her team would win the case. “Otherwise, we wouldn’t do it,” he said.

Richard Roth, a New York-based lawyer representing Ms Harvey, told the BBC there was “no doubt” that Ms Harvey’s identity was used in the baby reindeer plot.

He said he had “irrefutable documentary evidence” proving his client had never been convicted of a crime.

Ms Harvey, who lives in England, says she has received several death threats since the series aired in April.

The experience left her “afraid to leave the house or watch the news,” the lawsuits say, adding that she became “extremely lonely and isolated, fearful of public, and went days without leaving the house.”

In a nearly hour-long interview with Piers Morgan last month, Ms Harvey confirmed she had known Mr Quail during his time working in a pub in London.

But she denied playing the role of Martha, who sends 41,000 emails to the character of Mr God and 350 hours of voicemail messages on the show.

“None of that is true. I don’t think I sent him anything,” she said.

“No, I think maybe a couple of e-mails were exchanged, but that’s it. Just witty banter e-mails.”

However, the suit alleges that some of the actual comments she made to Mr Ghat – such as a tweet she sent him in 2014 – were used in the show’s dialogue.

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