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Will Netflix be Sued over Baby Reindeer?

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Netflix launched a series last month named ‘Baby Reindeer’ that has taken the world by storm. According to the streaming giant
Will Netflix be Sued over Baby Reindeer

Netflix launched a series last month named ‘Baby Reindeer’ that has taken the world by storm. According to the streaming giant, it is based on a true story and is actually a brutal account of the life of Richard Gadd, a former comedian. During his twenties, Gadd had been struggling to make a name for himself in the world of entertainment.

While working at a pub, Gadd was harassed by a woman who then stalked him. A woman named Fiona Harvey has now come forward, claiming to be the woman mentioned in the show. She said that she intends to sue both Gadd and Netflix, but no claims have been filed as yet. Gadd has clarified that he did fictionalize his stalker, as it is not possible to copy someone else’s life.

The Discovery

Only days after Netflix dropped Baby Reindeer, internet sleuths managed to find the real woman on whom the character of ‘Martha’ was based. Fiona Harvey had a lot in common with the woman depicted as the stalker in the show. After considerable speculation, Harvey made an appearance on Piers’ Morgan’s show on YouTube where she claimed that she was the inspiration for ‘Martha’.

However, she denied every stalking Gadd, but did admit that she sent him emails, even though her count was very different than what was shown. According to Harvey, she will take legal action against the writer and possibly Netflix as well.

The Law

No claims have yet been filed in the London High Court, but U.K Lawyer Chris Daw KC asserted that they were building a team of lawyers for taking on the case. He added that they were looking at the potential claims they can make against Gadd, Netflix and producer Clerkenwell Films.

While Daw is not yet representing Harvey officially in a legal capacity, he said that it would take them some time to gather the evidence and present a legal claim. Some of the potential claims they are considering include image rights and defamation. As compared to the US, the law in the UK favors libel plaintiffs, as they can pursue claims of invasion of privacy, defamation and other legal remedies.

The Possibilities

A libel action is only possible if the allegations made are defamatory and untrue. If the disputed allegations are proven to be substantially correct, a lawsuit is less likely. Harvey has alleged that there are some major discrepancies between reality and what has been shown. The discrepancy is related to the volume of messages Martha sent, along with her conviction and prison sentence.

If the case does go to trial, the judge will decide the disputed facts and determine if Harvey’s reputation suffered due to the fictionalization. If the conviction aspect is untrue, then things would work in favor of Harvey. The latter can also file a claim for invasion of privacy because people were able to work out the connection and discover her identity. There is uncanny resemblance between Martha and Harvey and this will not be helpful for Netflix or Gadd.

Regardless, even if Harvey does proceed with a legal claim, the case is unlikely to go to trial because it would not benefit either side. Netflix would probably want to settle, not only because of the expense, but also because trials can be high risk.

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