Netflix boss misled parliament over truth of Baby Reindeer story, MP claims

Richard Gadd and Jessica Gunning in Baby Reindeer
Richard Gadd, who plays himself, and Jessica Gunning, who plays Martha, in Baby Reindeer - ED MILLER/NETFLIX/AVALON

A Netflix boss misled parliament over the truth about the series Baby Reindeer, an MP has claimed.

John Nicolson, a Scottish National Party MP, will ask Netflix to substantiate its claims that a stalker who inspired the fictional character was convicted.

Baby Reindeer is a dramatisation of the apparently true story of comedian Richard Gadd, who stars in the series as himself alongside Jessica Gunning.

Ms Gunning plays the character of Martha, based on his stalker, who is believed to be a woman called Fiona Harvey.

Giving evidence before the culture media and sport committee last week, Benjamin King, a Netflix executive, said the show was “obviously a true story of the horrific abuse that the writer and protagonist Richard Gadd suffered at the hands of a convicted stalker”.

Richard Gadd in Baby Reindeer
Richard Gadd's show about an apparently true story has been widely acclaimed - TELEVISION STILLS

However, John Nicolson, believes that claim may be false and is challenging the company to prove Mr King did not lie or mislead MPs.

Mr Nicolson told the BBC: “It’s clear that the evidence given by Netflix to the select committee is disputed.

“The charge made – of a conviction – is very important. Journalists can find no evidence to back up the Netflix claim.

“I will be writing to Netflix to ask them to substantiate the claim they made.”

There is no documented evidence that Ms Harvey, from Aberdeenshire, was ever convicted of an offence.

Both Police Scotland and Scotland’s prosecution service said on Friday that they were unable to say whether or not they had records of any criminal action against her.

The ‘real’ Martha

After it aired on the streaming platform, online sleuths hunted for the character Martha is based on.

Ms Harvey then identified herself as the woman portrayed as Martha. Neither Netflix nor Richard Gadd has confirmed her identity.

Ms Harvey subsequently did an interview with Piers Morgan and said the claims made in the series were not true.

She said she had not sent thousands of emails to Gadd, nor had she been convicted of stalking or gone to prison.

Fiona Harvey in an interview with Piers Morgan
Fiona Harvey denied sending thousands of emails to Gadd as claimed in the series

Apart from the evidence Mr King gave to the parliamentary committee, Netflix has not commented on the controversy surrounding the series.

Baby Reindeer has been watched by 65 million people worldwide. It is a dramatised account of the stalking Gadd was subjected to which he has since described as his “emotional truth”.

In the opening episode the show claims: “This is a true story.”

Ms Harvey is also threatening legal action against Netflix and the company which made the drama, Clerkenwell films, owned by BBC Studios, because they failed in its duty of care to protect her identity.

She claims they should have taken more care to protect her identity as the character in the drama is similarly Scottish, a lawyer and overweight.

Chris Banatvala, the former head of standards at Ofcom, told The Media Show there is “a duty of care” whenever you make a programme dealing with potentially vulnerable people, “whether that’s Richard Gadd or Fiona Harvey”.

Netflix and the SNP have been approached for comment.