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‘Baby Reindeer’: Real-Life Martha Files $50 Million Lawsuit Against Netflix

Fiona Harvey accuses streaming service of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence “arising out of the brutal lies” in Richard Gadd’s hit series

Baby Reindeer

Ed Miller/Netflix

The woman who was allegedly the basis of the “Martha” character in the Netflix hit Baby Reindeer has made good on her promise to sue the streaming service.

Fiona Harvey, who has claimed she inspired “Martha” in the series — while also denying she is the obsessed stalker that Baby Reindeer painted her to be — filed a $50 million lawsuit against Netflix, accusing them of “defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, gross negligence, and violations of Harvey’s right of publicity, arising out of the brutal lies Defendants told about her in the television series, Baby Reindeer.”

Surprisingly, Richard Gadd, the writer and creator of Baby Reindeer and the basis for the series’ “Donny Dunn” character, was not named as a defendant.

In the lawsuit, first reported by TMZ and obtained by Rolling Stone, Harvey claims that Netflix did an inadequate job of protecting her identity amid the series’ breakout success. Notably, Harvey points to Martha’s reoccurring joke “Hang my curtains,” and how it matches a similar tweet (“My curtains need hung badly”) Harvey herself sent to Gadd in 2014.

Within days of Baby Reindeer premiering, despite Gadd asking viewers not to seek out the inspiration behind Martha, internet sleuths were quickly able to figure out Harvey’s identity based on the decade-old tweet.

“Popular internet forums such as Reddit [sic] and TikTok had thousands of users identifying and discussing Harvey as the real ‘Martha.’ The identification of Harvey as ‘Martha’ was easy and took a matter of days as Harvey’s identity was completely undisguised,” the lawsuit claims.

“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 34-page lawsuit then methodically breaks down all the instances in which Gadd, via Martha’s character, defamed Harvey, including suggesting that she sexually assaulted him (which she has denied) and alleging that she served prison time for stalking him (“In fact, Harvey has never pled guilty to any crime. Harvey is not a convicted criminal,” the lawsuit says.)

Harvey’s lawsuit also quoted the words of Netflix’s executives and press materials that repeatedly claimed that Baby Reindeer is a “true story.” Citing a May 2024 meeting where Netflix executive Benjamin King addressed the House of Commons, King said, “Baby Reindeer is obviously a true story of the horrific abuse that [Richard Gadd] suffered at the hands of a convicted stalker.” The lawsuit then reiterates that Harvey “is not a convicted stalker and King’s and Netflix’s statement is a defamatory lie.”

Additionally, a member of the House of Commons asked King and Netflix to provide “a record of conviction” in connection to Harvey, which the streaming service has not provided, the lawsuit added.

Netflix did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.

“Since being identified as ‘Martha’ only days after Netflix’s release of Baby Reindeer, Harvey has been tormented. Harvey continues to suffer emotional distress, which has been manifested by objective symptomology. Harvey is physically weak. She has and continues to experience anxiety, nightmares, panic attacks, shame, depression, nervousness, stomach pains, loss of appetite and fear, extreme stress and sickness all directly caused by the lies told about her in Baby Reindeer,” the lawsuit continued.

“Harvey is fearful of leaving her home or checking the news. As a direct result of Baby Reindeer, Harvey has become extremely secluded and isolated, in fear of the public, going days without leaving her home. At the same time, Netflix and Gadd, have traveled the country promoting the show and accepting awards while receiving praise and applause for the series, everything Gadd and Netflix wanted, for this ‘true story.’ Baby Reindeer is not a true story. It is a lie created by Gadd and distributed by Netflix.”

Harvey is seeking $50 million, or $1 for each of the 50 million people she claims has streamed Baby Reindeer.

From Rolling Stone US