How strong a case might "Real-life Martha" have?

May 22, 2024
Image of Jessica on Piers Morgan Uncensored

The interest in Baby Reindeer continues as Associate Jessica Welch formed part of a panel discussion on Piers Morgan Uncensored about "Real-life Martha's" claim that she intends to sue Netflix and Richard Gadd for defamation in light of the smash hit show.

Piers Morgan began by asking Jessica how strong a defamation case Fiona Harvey might have. Jessica remarked: "if she can show that these damaging allegations that have caused third parties to think worse of her are false, then she is likely to have a claim against Netflix and Gadd." However, Jessica stressed "that is not to say that she is going to be successful in that claim, because it is all going to come down to the evidence."

In the last week, it has also been alleged that Harvey has stalked other people, including Labour leader Keir Starmer. Asked if these allegations might have any bearing on Harvey's potential litigation against Netflix, Jessica commented that a publisher cannot, under UK law, rely on the harm that someone else has caused in order to escape liability. Stressing that much of the details are as yet unclear, Jessica went on to remark that, "the fact that Netflix felt confident in broadcasting this show, [...] you have to think that enough of it is true." She explained that the other allegations that are now coming to light nod towards undermining Harvey's credibility - but as no one knows what really went on, it's very difficult to say at this stage.

Discussing the burden of proof in English defamation law, Jessica said: "under English law, the position is that if you say that someone else has defamed you, and that allegation is false, the burden is on the person who has made the allegation to prove the substantial truth in it, if they're relying on a defence of truth. For truth specifically, Netflix and Gadd will have to prove the substantial truth in that allegation."

Touching on the potential reputational ramifications for Netflix, Jessica commented: "I think the really interesting point is what's to come. Netflix has almost shut their doors, and it doesn't mean to say that they're not doing anything behind the scenes - I'm sure they are. From a legal and regulatory perspective, and from a duty of care perspective, they will be worried about it, as will all other streamers and broadcasters, because it has caused such an enormous tidal wave of interest."

Piers Morgan asked Jessica if she would recommend that Gadd participate in an interview to clear up all of the speculation surrounding Baby Reindeer. Jessica responded: "I think it's difficult. If threats of legal action are being made now, he needs to be quite careful as to what he's saying publicly. Everything he now says, and has already said, is going to be used either against him or to support him."

Jessica continued: "Interviews are a fantastic way to give someone a platform who maybe hasn't had a voice before, but they can also cause problems. We've seen that happen with public figures before, who have gone on shows to tell their side of the story, and they have fallen foul of what they were hoping to do [] he probably now needs to be a bit careful about what he's saying publicly."

Jessica was interviewed on Piers Morgan Uncensored, 21 May 2024 and the image on this article is a screenshot from the interview as broadcast on YouTube by Piers Morgan Uncensored.

Jessica WelchJessica Welch
Jessica Welch
Jessica Welch

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