Jun 18, 2024 by Foresight

The Legal Battle Over "Baby Reindeer": An Examination of Potential Expert Witnesses

On the 6th of June, Fiona Harvey filed a lawsuit against Netflix, alleging defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and violations of her right of publicity, claiming that the depiction of the main character in the show “Baby Reindeer” as a stalker was of her, without consent over the content.


The suit, filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, claims that the show "Baby Reindeer" falsely portrays Harvey as a twice-convicted stalker who sexually assaulted the show's creator, Richard Gadd, however Harvey contends that these fabrications were made to create a more compelling story, thereby boosting viewership and profits at her expense.

The complaint states ‘the lies that Defendants told about Harvey to over 50 million people worldwide include that Harvey is a twice-convicted stalker who was sentenced to 5 years in prison, and that Harvey sexually assaulted Gadd... Defendants told these lies, and never stopped, because it was a better story than the truth, and better stories made money,’ with Harvey alleging that these defamatory statements have severely damaged her reputation and caused significant emotional distress.

What’s more, the lawsuit also highlights Harvey's academic and professional background, emphasising her credentials in law and her previously unblemished reputation.

As a result, she is now seeking more than $170 million in damages from Netflix, including compensation for mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of business and punitive damages also. And yet, despite the claims, Netflix has responded with its intent to "defend this matter vigorously" and uphold Richard Gadd's right to tell his story.


The role of expert witnesses in the “Baby Reindeer” case  

As the case progresses, the roles of expert witnesses will be pivotal in determining the outcome, it is very likely that different types of expert witness could be called upon to provide critical insights and evidence.

These may well include Psychiatrists and Psychologists to assess the mental health impact, mobile site analysis to track digital footprints, and also Forensic IT or mobile phone analysis to uncover digital evidence.

The application of these expert witness testimonies may therefore include:

  • Psychiatrists: these are medical doctors which specialise in diagnosing and treating mental disorders, and therefore may evaluate Harvey for conditions such as PTSD, anxiety or depression that she claims were exacerbated by the show's depiction of her. Here, the expert testimony of a psychiatrist could link the show's content to any deterioration in her mental health, providing clinical evidence to support her claims.
  • Clinical psychologists: who can provide detailed assessments of Harvey's psychological state through various tests and interviews, many of which may offer insights into how the media portrayal has impacted her mental health and overall well-being.
  • Mobile site analysts: these are experts that use data from mobile phone towers to determine the location of mobile phones at specific times, and as a result, they can analyse mobile phone records, text messages and data usage to establish the whereabouts of Harvey and other key individuals during alleged incidents. This information can support or disprove claims made by both sides about the timing and location of specific events depicted in the series.
  • Forensic IT specialists: who can recover, analyse and present data from computers, servers and cloud services. This may include the examination of emails, social media interactions and other digital communications to uncover evidence of harassment, defamation or privacy violations, and their analysis can help build a timeline of digital interactions to shed light on whether the show's narrative aligns with actual events.
  • Mobile phone analysts: are experts who specialise in the extraction and analysis of data from mobile devices. These experts can recover deleted messages, call logs and GPS data, and so their findings can provide insights into the nature and frequency of communications between Harvey and the show's creators, potentially revealing discrepancies or supporting evidence regarding the claims made in the lawsuit.

As well as these core expertise, there are also additional expert witness types which may also be called upon in this case, such as:

  • Media analysts: who are experts able to assess the portrayal of individuals in media and its impact on public perception. These experts can evaluate whether the depiction in "Baby Reindeer" aligns with responsible journalistic standards and its potential influence on viewers.
  • Defamation law specialists: who may be legal scholars or practicing attorneys specialising in defamation law to provide insights into whether the statements made in the show constitute defamation, therefore allowing them to explain the nuances of defamation law to the jury and assess the potential harm to Harvey's reputation.
  • Economic analysts: who can calculate the financial impact of the alleged defamation on Harvey’s career and life, such as any lost wages, diminished earning capacity and other economic damages stemming from the show’s portrayal.
  • And even reputation consultants: who can testify about the harm done to Harvey's personal and professional reputation by explaining how negative media portrayals can affect an individual's public image and suggest the long-term impacts on her career and personal life.

All of these experts can authenticate digital evidence, ensuring that any information presented in court is accurate and has not been tampered with, and if brought in as expert witnesses in this case, their testimony will be critical in establishing the factual basis of Harvey's claims and defending against allegations of defamation and emotional distress.


The lawsuit against Netflix by Fiona Harvey is poised to be a complex legal battle, heavily reliant on the testimony of expert witnesses.

What we’re likely to find as the case progresses, is that psychiatrists, psychologists, mobile site analysts, forensic IT specialists and mobile phone analysts will be able to provide critical digital evidence to support or disprove claims made by both parties, however, the detailed and professional assessments provided by these experts will be essential in determining the veracity of Harvey's claims and the potential liability of Netflix.

As a result, their contributions will not only influence the outcome of this high-profile lawsuit but also set precedents for future cases involving media portrayals and their impacts on individuals' lives.


Finding the right expert witness

Foresight brings the UK’s most comprehensive panel of expert witnesses to support family and criminal law cases. As an industry-leading provider, we help legal professionals save time and work smarter by sourcing the most suitably qualified and highly experienced expert to support their case within LAA rates, if required - no matter the discipline, no matter the deadline.

If you would like to talk to our team about instructing one of our experts, please get in touch. 


0330 088 9000


Stay up-to-date with all the latest news in the industry by signing up to our newsletter. You're welcome to unsubscribe at any time and we'll always treat your personal details with the utmost care.