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Netflix sued in U$170 million Baby Reindeer defamation lawsuit


Netflix was sued on Thursday for at least US$170 million by a Scottish woman who said she was defamed over her portrayal as a stalker in the hit miniseries Baby Reindeer.

The plaintiff Fiona Harvey has publicly claimed to be the inspiration behind the character Martha, played by actress Jessica Gunning, who shares a physical resemblance and like her is a lawyer in London.

But in a complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court, Harvey said Netflix and Baby Reindeer creator Richard Gadd went too far by suggesting through the show, which calls itself a “true story”, that she was a twice-convicted stalker who had been sentenced to five years in prison.

Harvey denied having stalked Gadd, who on the show plays a fictional version of himself named Donny Dunn, or having been convicted or imprisoned.

Baby Reindeer cast members Jessica Gunning and Richard Gadd. Photo: Reuters
But she said many people could not tell the difference, and thousands of Reddit and TikTok users talk about her as the “real” Martha.

“Defendants told these lies, and never stopped, because it was a better story than the truth, and better stories made money,” the complaint said.

Netflix, in response to the lawsuit, said it intended to “defend this matter vigorously and to stand by Richard Gadd’s right to tell his story”.

Gadd is not named as a defendant, but emails sent seeking comment from lawyers representing him were not immediately returned. The British writer and performer had previously told journalists that he changed details about Martha in an effort to protect her identity.

The lawsuit seeks at least US$50 million each for actual damages, compensatory damages including mental anguish, and profits, plus at least US$20 million of punitive damages.

Harvey sued two days after Netflix settled a defamation lawsuit by former prosecutor Linda Fairstein over her portrayal in When They See Us, a 2019 series about the Central Park Five rape case three decades earlier.

Netflix agreed to move a disclaimer that some characters may have been altered for dramatic purposes to the start of episodes from the closing credits. It also agreed to donate US$1 million to a non-profit that helps free wrongfully convicted people.

Additional reporting by Associated Press



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