Baby Reindeer's 'real life Martha' has to wear a mask in public, says lawyer

Yahoo spoke to Richard Roth, the lawyer representing Fiona Harvey in her lawsuit against Netflix

Fiona Harvey appeared on Piers Morgan Uncensored. (Talk TV)
Fiona Harvey appeared on Piers Morgan Uncensored. (Talk TV)

Fiona Harvey, who says she is the "real life Martha" from Netflix's Baby Reindeer, has to disguise herself in public, her lawyer Richard Roth told Yahoo.

"This woman has really been shattered," Roth says. "She received death threats. She is worried to go out and buy groceries. She has to walk around in a mask, totally in disguise so she doesn't have to deal with it."

This is one of the most important reasons why Roth has decided to take on Harvey's lawsuit and battle it out with Netflix, one of the biggest streaming services in the world.

Baby Reindeer tells the dark, twisted story of failed comedian Donny Dunn (Richard Gadd) who is stalked by middle-aged woman Martha Scott (Jessica Gunning) after a simple act of kindness. The show got 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and was an instant success after Netflix claimed "it is a true story", although Gadd later told The Guardian that some of the events in the story were "tweaked slightly to create dramatic climaxes".

Harvey is suing Netflix for £135million. The lawsuit filed in California accused the streaming platform of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, gross negligence and violations of her right of publicity. Netflix responded to say: "We intend to defend this matter vigorously and to stand by Richard Gadd’s right to tell his story."

BABY REINDEER, Jessica Gunning, (Season 1, ep. 101, aired April 11, 2024). photo: Ed Miller / ©Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection
Jessica Gunning as Martha in Baby Reindeer. (Netflix/Everett Collection)

But Roth claimed: "It's so rewarding to represent Fiona because this woman has been so defamed and so publicly humiliated that I want to make it right. I have a tremendous amount of self satisfaction and in championing her cause because she really needs someone to say 'that's not fair' and 'it's not right'."

The lawyer representing Fiona Harvey, Richard Roth. (ITV screengrab)
The lawyer representing Fiona Harvey, Richard Roth, recently appeared on Good Morning Britain. (ITV screengrab)

Baby Reindeer took the world by storm and as a result, the lawyer said Harvey is a "torn woman". Reflecting, Roth said that Harvey's life as she once knew it — regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit — has changed forever.

"This woman was never in the limelight and she was thrust into the limelight because of Netflix," he said. "She was not a celebrity."

He added: "Unequivocally this has changed her life. She's never gonna be a private citizen for the rest of her life. I think it's very, very negative. The reason why she came out and did Piers Morgan was because she was getting all these death threats and she wanted to set the record straight.

"People knew who she was before she even came out and everyone knows who she is. It's terrible for that to happen to you. It's a major, major scar that she will always be carrying."

While Roth acknowledged Harvey has "some issues" and is "for lack of a better word, a vulnerable person", he noted she is also intelligent. He added: "She's a very bright woman. She really is very smart. She's got a law degree. [If this goes to court] She will take the stand and Richard Gadd will take the stand and we battle it out."

Baby Reindeer (Netflix)
Baby Reindeer shows Donny (Richard Gadd) and Martha (Jessica Gunning) at the pub. (Netflix)

Other than giving the character the name Martha, Roth claimed Netflix did nothing to disguise his client Harvey in the Baby Reindeer series. "They made it very, very easy to find out who Martha is," he said.

He suggested: "They could have made her Italian, they could have made her thin, they could have changed her accent, they could have changed the name of the bar. They could have used different, different tweets. It didn't have be 'hang my curtains'. It could be ‘hold my drapes’, right?"

"Don't make it so easy to find out who she is," he said. "And that's what really, that makes us a strong case."

As a consequence, the lawyer claimed his client is "entitled to significant money" as well as an apology.

In Baby Reindeer, the character Martha — who Harvey says is based on her — is sentenced to nine months behind bars and is also handed a five-year restraining order after leaving threatening voicemails for Donny. Gadd told The Times that the situation in real life had been "resolved" and that he "didn't want to throw someone who was that level of mentally unwell in prison".

Richard Gadd wrote Baby Reindeer and also is the lead actor.
Richard Gadd wrote Baby Reindeer and also is the lead actor. (Netflix)

Roth pointed out Harvey has no criminal convictions and said, "When you say someone's a convicted felon, that's a pretty serious statement".

He added: "A real apology and significant money for Fiona is really the only answer because you can't undo what has happened. I mean, the old saying is you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. It's out there and it's very bothersome that Netflix really had no regard for her."

Roth admitted himself that Baby Reindeer is a "good piece of art" and a "very dark story" but it should tell the truth because it claims at the beginning: "This is a true story." He said: "It's so outrageous that they could just say this is a true story when there's just so much of it that's false."

The Hawley Arms in Camden, London
The Hawley Arms in Camden, London. (Getty)

In a bid to get to the truth, the lawyer is calling for witnesses to come forward after an unnamed former barmaid who worked alongside Gadd at the Hawley Arms in Camden told The Daily Mail that Harvey was "targeted as a joke". It is his hope to "understand what exactly went down" between Harvey and Gadd in 2015.

He said: "I would like people who have personal knowledge of this case to contact me, like the barmaid who was working at the bar. I would love to know who this barmaid is because there are people that were present during a lot of the alleged occurrences.

"So if Fiona is sitting at a bar and allegedly saying something, doing something, I'd imagine that they weren't the only ones in there. The barmaid had some pretty negative things to say about Richard Gadd and the bar."

Fiona Harvey was interviewed by Piers Morgan in the UK for his YouTube channel Uncensored. (YouTube grab)
Fiona Harvey was interviewed by Piers Morgan in the UK for his YouTube channel Uncensored. (YouTube grab)

For Roth, the biggest challenge he faces is that Harvey lives here in the UK while he is based in New York City. "I've been doing this for over 40 years. I'm very familiar with everything that Netflix may throw at us," he said.

He added: "She is across the pond, as we say, and so there's times where I'd love to just sit with her and talk to her and everything. Listen, we've come a long way, everything is zoom now.

"I think the biggest challenge is that she is not local. I've had cases with people who aren't local also but there's always a personal level that is not as close when you have to zoom and talk on the phone all the time."

Yahoo has reached out to Netflix for comment.