Monday, May 27, 2024

HT Exclusive: UK psychiatrist warns against trolling Baby Reindeer’s real-life Martha Scott, ‘No proof of lying…’

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Netflix’s Baby Reindeer has successfully captivated millions of viewers, who went through a complete emotional rollercoaster watching the show. In the aftermath of Fiona Harvey’s interview, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist Sohom Das, who treats and rehabilitates criminals who are mentally disordered, broke down their conversation in an exclusive interview with HindustanTimes.com.

Fiona Harvey (L), Baby Reindeer’s real Martha Scott, recently appeared for her first public interview (Piers Morgan Uncensored/YouTube, Netflix screenshot)

Harvey blatantly denied almost every detail shown in the series, dismissing claims that she was a stalker and accusing Gadd of being the one who asked her to sleep with him. Gadd claimed his stalker sent him more than 41,000 emails, 744 tweets, 100 pages of letters and 350 hours of voicemails. Harvey said these were lies, insisting that her interaction with Gadd involved only some friendly banter.

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Harvey admitted that she may have only sent him a “handful” of emails. The series said the stalker got sentenced to several months in prison, but Harvey said she has never had any legal troubles. She also denied attacking Gadd and his girlfriend on separate occasions, as shown in the series.

Watch the interview:

Is Fiona Harvey lying?

Internet sleuths have been pointing out inconsistencies in Harvey’s sentences and her lack of confidence. Are these factors enough to determine that she is lying? Das, who lives and works in London, providing evidence to criminal trials about defendants with various mental illnesses, said the answer is no. He insisted that it is “hard to know where the exact truth lies.”

“I have seen a plethora of internet commentators making assertions that she is lying, simply from her presentation. As a forensic psychiatrist dealing in criminal court cases, it’s all about hard evidence. Speculation only blurs the lines. For example, are there email trails of the emails from Harvey? Gadd claimed there were over 40,000, but she said that she sent only a few. This is a cast iron discrepancy that can easily be ascertained, but only with the proper evidence,” he said.

He added, “To me, this is infinitely more robust than trying to decide if somebody’s fibbing, by their presentation or relying on our gut feelings.”

Das insisted that we “need to be very careful about accusations of Harvey seemingly contradicting her own points.” “She certainly was a little vague in her recollection at times, but we have to take this in the context that she is being grilled about events that happened many years ago, which seemed trivial to her at the time. However, this in itself is not proof of lying. I’m not saying she’s definitely telling the truth, but I also don’t think that outsiders can definitively decide,” he reiterated.

Das explained that Harvey’s body language and the lack of confidence in her claims do not prove she is lying. “This could be related to poor memory of incidents from many years ago, or being flustered or nervous about participating in such a high-profile interview. We can’t assume anything at this point,” he said.

Sohom Das works with people in courts, prisons and psychiatric units (A Psych For Sore Minds screenshot/YouTube)
Sohom Das works with people in courts, prisons and psychiatric units (A Psych For Sore Minds screenshot/YouTube)

How was real-life Martha’s body language in the interview?

Das went on to say that to him, Harvey came across as “relatively lucid and plausible in this interview.” 

“On the surface she does not appear to be harbouring any delusional beliefs about a previous relationship with Gadd, as shown in the series. Of course, it’s possible that she does have underlying very strange or even delusional beliefs or that she’s lying – I just don’t think any of that obviously came out during the interview with Morgan,” Das said.

Harvey said she used six email IDs on being asked if she still uses the same email address she used while writing to Gadd. Speaking about this, Das admitted that it is indeed “odd” and “maybe even suspicious.” However, he said that this does not necessarily ring alarm bells, as it is possible that the person simply changed the IDs over time. “It could suggest the possibility of deception, but again, it is not definitive proof,” he said.

What happens if Fiona Harvey sues Netflix and Richard Gadd?

Harvey, who claims to have a law degree, has threatened to sue Gadd and Netflix for defaming her. But if she does that, won’t it be super easy for authorities to find out who is telling the truth?

“If Harvey does try to sue Netflix, and if she is lying, then presumably it will be extremely easy for Gadd to provide evidence of this. I think her civil court case will collapse very quickly,” Das said.

“The potential trouble is if the truth lies somewhere in the middle – for example, supposing Fiona sent dozens emails as opposed to the 41,000 that Gadd claimed. Would this still constitute stalking? And if it did, could Fiona claim defamation of character if Martha Scott was supposed to be a fictionalised version of her? So, what I’m saying is, the issue might be more about to what degree her character was fictionalised, as opposed to what degree she carried out stalking behaviour,” he added.

Das concluded by saying that although there are too many unanswered questions, speculation and conspiracy theories, there is not enough evidence to know the answers. “But hopefully in time, all will reveal itself,” said Das, whose YouTube channel “explores the crossroads of mental illness and offending.”

The drama around Baby Reindeer

At the end of the seven-episode drama, people were left with various unanswered questions, and one of these questions turned viewers into what they would themselves rather run from – stalkers!

Viewers channelled their inner Martha Scotts, vowing to find out who the real female stalker of Gadd is, even though the actor himself had urged his audience on social media not to try and track her down because, as he had said, that is “not the point of our show.”

What truly shocked viewers was the fact that Baby Reindeer, a British dark comedy drama-thriller, is a true story. Created by and starring Gadd, the series centres on struggling comedian Donny Dunn, who befriends Scott after feeling a sense of pity for her when she turns up alone at a bar he worked at. 

What started as an innocent interaction quickly turned dark, with Scott beginning to relentlessly stalk Dunn. The story is based on Gadd’s personal experiences, and he has played a fictionalised version of himself in the drama. Scott’s character has been played by actress Jessica Gunning.

Richard Gadd (Donny Dunn) and Jessica Gunning (Martha Scott) in Baby Reindeer (Netflix screenshot)
Richard Gadd (Donny Dunn) and Jessica Gunning (Martha Scott) in Baby Reindeer (Netflix screenshot)

Internet sleuths being internet sleuths, they were quick to trace Harvey, thanks to an age where so much data is available online, for free. Gadd’s conscious steps to prevent identification, including using pseudonyms for the names of the series’ characters, were all in vain.

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