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Compiled by Carien Grobler

Deputy Digital Editor

Real-life ‘Martha’ from Netflix’s ‘Baby Reindeer’ sues Netflix for $170M

The show, based on Richard Gadd's one-man play, follows a fictionalised version of the author who meets a stalker in the pub where he works.

A British woman who claims she was the inspiration for the stalker, Martha, in the smash Netflix hit Baby Reindeer sued the streamer Thursday, demanding $170 million in damages.

Fiona Harvey has identified herself as the real-life “Martha,” the delusional, violent and abusive woman at the center of Richard Gadd’s global phenomenon, which claims in its opening episode to be “a true story”. 

“The above quote…is the biggest lie in television history,” the lawsuit, filed in California, says.

“It is a lie told by Netflix and the show’s creator, Richard Gadd, out of greed and lust for fame. The lie was designed to attract more viewers, get more attention, to make more money. It also aimed to viciously destroy the life of Plaintiff, Fiona Harvey.”

In a statement to AFP, a Netflix spokesperson said: “We intend to defend this matter vigorously and to stand by Richard Gadd’s right to tell his story.”’

An instant Netflix hit

The seven-episode series premièred on Netflix in April and quickly became a huge hit.

The show, based on Gadd’s one-man play, follows a fictionalised version of the author who meets a stalker in the pub where he works.

His encounter with Martha (Jessica Gunning), a woman seemingly downtrodden, leads him to extend a simple act of kindness by offering her a cup of tea on the house.

Soon Martha frequently visits the pub, taking up Donny’s time with her incessant chatter and concocted tales of a lavish lifestyle. Gradually, her fixation on Donny becomes evident. Soon, she starts to spam him with emails, hundreds flooding his inbox daily with increasingly suggestive undertones.

Martha, who the show claims to have been previously convicted for stalking a lawyer, is also shown to sexually assault Gadd.

The British writer and performer told journalists that he changed details about Martha to protect her identity. However, armchair detectives quickly tracked her down and began contacting her on social media.

‘Martha’ seeks justice

After being outed, Harvey appeared on British television, denying that she had bombarded Gadd with messages. She also denied that she had attacked him or his girlfriend.

“The lies that Defendants told about Harvey to over 50 million people worldwide include that Harvey was a twice convicted stalker. He said she was sentenced to five years in prison, and that Harvey sexually assaulted Gadd,” the suit says.

“Defendants told these lies, and never stopped. It was a better story than the truth, and better stories made money. And Netflix, a multinational billion-dollar entertainment streaming company, did literally nothing to confirm the ‘true story’ that Gadd told.”

The suit against Netflix alleges defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence, among other claims, and demands $170 million.

Additional source: AFP

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