Woman Sues Netflix For $170 Million Over Baby Reindeer Character

image source, Credit: Piers Morgan Uncensored

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

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

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

Fiona Harvey, who claims Martha is based on her, argued in a lawsuit filed Thursday in a California court that Netflix told “brutal lies” to its more than 50 million viewers worldwide.

The suit seeks $170m (£132m) in damages for Ms Harvey, who claims the Baby Reindeer series misrepresented her as a convicted felon and spent time in prison.

The show was written by Scottish comedian Richard Gott.

A statement from Netflix said: “We want to vigorously defend this matter and stand by Richard Cott’s right to tell his story.”

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.

Speaking to BBC News on Thursday, Ms Harvey said she was confident Netflix would lose the case.

“It’s a true story,” says the first episode of the hit mini-series.

The show’s end credits state that the program is “based on true events: although certain characters, names, incidents, locations and dialogue are imagined for dramatic purposes”.

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 Cott wrote the series about his alleged experience of being stalked by a woman he met at the pub where he worked. He was not named as a defendant in Ms. Harvey’s lawsuit.

Neither Mr Gadd nor Ms Harvey’s real names were used in the series.

On social media, Mr Cott had previously pleaded with fans to avoid trying to identify Martha, the stalker character he first portrayed in the stand-up comedy routine.

Ms. Harvey identified herself as the woman portrayed as Martha in the series. Netflix and Mr Gadd have not confirmed this.

Ms Harvey’s suit alleges that Netflix “did nothing” to ensure that Mr Ghat’s story was true before making the series.

“It never investigated whether Harvey was guilty, which is a gross misrepresentation of the facts,” the complaint says, referring to Martha’s prior conviction for stalking.

“It does nothing to understand the relationship between God and Harvey. It does nothing to determine whether other facts, including the assault, alleged stalking or conviction, are accurate.

The case also includes a photo of a background check and a certificate stating that Ms. Harvey has no criminal charges on her record.

The child reindeer character, Martha, is a convicted poacher who is arrested after Mr. God’s character reports her to the police.

Mr Roth added that there was “no doubt” that Ms Harvey’s identity had been used in the Baby Reindeer plot.

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 her house or check the news,” the lawsuits say, and she “passed days without leaving the house, afraid of being in public.”

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 her character Mr Gatt 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 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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