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‘Baby Reindeer’ lawsuit: Alleged ‘real Martha’ seeks $170 million from Netflix

Jessica Gunning sits in a booth at a diner while holding a menu and staring at a man sitting across from her.
Jessica Gunning as Martha Scott in “Baby Reindeer.”
(Netflix)
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The woman who allegedly inspired the serial stalker character at the center of Netflix’s hit miniseries “Baby Reindeer” has sued the streaming giant for negligence and defamation.

Fiona Harvey filed a $170-million complaint Thursday in United States district court in California, alleging that Netflix and “Baby Reindeer” creator Richard Gadd told “brutal lies” about her in an effort to “attract more viewers,” “make more money” and “viciously destroy” her life.

Harvey is rumored to be the real-life Martha Scott — the stalker played by Jessica Gunning in the popular TV adaptation of Gadd’s one-man show. In particular, Harvey’s lawsuit takes issue with Netflix depicting Martha as a twice-convicted stalker who sexually assaults Gadd’s character and is sentenced to prison.

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British actor Jessica Gunning explained how she tackled playing the stalker Martha in “Baby Reindeer” and why she didn’t ask creator Richard Gadd about her real-life counterpart.

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

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

As Harvey’s lawsuit points out, the pilot episode of “Baby Reindeer” opens with the message, “this is a true story.”

The show stars Gadd as Donny Dunn, a struggling Scottish stand-up comedian whose life begins to unravel when a woman wanders into the bar where he works and develops an unhealthy obsession with him..

A woman who claims to be the basis for Martha, the mentally ill stalker in Netflix hit ‘Baby Reindeer,’ speaks to TV host Piers Morgan.

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Though Gadd has said that he and Netflix went to great lengths to obscure the identity of his real stalker, Harvey says in her lawsuit that Donny and Martha’s use of the phrase “hang my curtains” as a euphemism for sex in “Baby Reindeer” caused thousands of internet users to interrogate and suspect the character was based on her.

According to the complaint, the rampant speculation stemmed from a 2014 tweet by @FionaHarvey2014 that tagged @MrRichardGadd and read, “my curtains need hung badly.”

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Harvey has since spoken publicly about her alleged history with Gadd and disputed some of the plot points in “Baby Reindeer.” She alleges in her lawsuit that Netflix “did nothing” to fact-check Gadd’s production when making the show.

Harvey is seeking a jury trial.

Earlier this week, Netflix settled another defamation lawsuit brought by former New York City prosecutor Linda Fairstein over her portrayal in Ava DuVernay’s Emmy-winning limited series “When They See Us.”

Times archivist James Kim contributed to this report.

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