Why ‘real-life Martha’ from Baby Reindeer may not have been lying about her degree

The Scottish education system does not provide classifications for ordinary degrees

Emma Guinness
Saturday 25 May 2024 12:15 BST
Comments
'Get a job': 'Real' Martha sends message to Richard Gadd over Baby Reindeer

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

The “real-life” Martha from Baby Reindeer may not have been lying about her degree classification despite accusations of dishonesty across social media, The Independent can reveal.

Fiona Harvey, 58, asserted in her interview with Piers Morgan, 59, that she has a “photographic memory”.

But when he asked her to specify the grade she got for her law degree, she said: “I just did an ordinary degree and then a diploma in legal practice. I didn’t do an honours degree.”

While this was widely interpreted as an example of her “lying” or “slipping up” by online commentators, Harvey was telling the truth.

This is because undergraduate degrees in Scotland take four years, but in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, the courses are three years long.

In order to receive a specific grade, a person must do honours or an optional four year, which Harvey said in the interview she did not.

She was therefore unable to receive a classification as they do not exist for “ordinary” undergraduate degrees, which are simply pass or fail.

Fiona Harvey on ‘Piers Morgan Uncensored’
Fiona Harvey on ‘Piers Morgan Uncensored’ (YouTube)

The only situation in which a student at a Scottish university would receive no classification is if they fail their honours year and are unable to achieve a third-class degree.

However, Harvey asserted that she did not do this part of the course she says she attended at Aberdeen University.

Apple TV+ logo

Watch Apple TV+ free for 7 days

New subscribers only. £8.99/mo. after free trial. Plan auto-renews until cancelled

Try for free
Apple TV+ logo

Watch Apple TV+ free for 7 days

New subscribers only. £8.99/mo. after free trial. Plan auto-renews until cancelled

Try for free

Her claims are backed up by the institution itself.

“There are four classes of Honours degree classification: First, Upper Second, Lower Second and Third,” they explain online.

“A candidate who has not met the requirements for the award of a third-class Honours degree may, subject to meeting the requirements, be eligible for the award of a Designated Degree or non-Honours Degree.”

Piers Morgan did not appear to understand the Scottish education system
Piers Morgan did not appear to understand the Scottish education system (Piers Morgan/X)

Morgan’s lack of knowledge about the Scottish education system was also revealed before he asked about Harvey’s degree classification of English A-levels.

He asked her how many O and A levels she got at school, and she replied by explaining that she got six Highers, which is the Scottish equivalent qualification.

Fiona Harvey claims she was the inspiration behind Martha in ‘Baby Reindeer’
Fiona Harvey claims she was the inspiration behind Martha in ‘Baby Reindeer’ (Ed Miller/Netflix)

The interview on Piers Morgan Uncensored took place following the release of the hit Netflix show Baby Reindeer, which details comedian Richard Gadd’s experience with a stalker.

As the show was revealed to be based on a true story, internet sleuths took it upon themselves to identify the real woman who inspired the character of Martha.

This saw Harvey tracked down after multiple posts from a disused Twitter (X) account matched up with messages sent by the stalker in the show.

In the interview, Harvey admitted that she met Gadd, 33, but denied having ever stalked him and is allegedly taking taking legal action over claims made in the show.

Jessica Gunning as Martha in ‘Baby Reindeer’
Jessica Gunning as Martha in ‘Baby Reindeer’ (Netflix)

These claims included allegations that she sent Gadd 41,071 emails, 744 tweets, 46 Facebook messages, 106 pages of letters and 350 hours of voicemail.

However, since the interview, evidence has emerged that Harvey allegedly sent Labour leader Kier Starmer 276 emails over an eight month period while living in his constituency in 2020.

In the emails, she reportedly called Starmer a “stupid little boy” and added “your life won’t be worth living.”

This saw her placed on a police watch list for people obsessed with public figures in 2021.

The Fixated Threat Assessment Centre (FTAC), which is run by the Metropolitain Police and the NHS, is designed to provide psychological help for people with fixations before they escalate.

A source said of the emails: “There was no suggestion of any physical danger.

“But the murders of Jo Cox and Sir David Amess are a stark reminder of the dangers faced by MPs.

“It was felt that the police should be made aware of the large volume of emails so the individual could receive help and stop the nuisance messages.”

At the time of writing, the case reportedly remains “under review” by the Met police.

Harvey is also alleged to have targetted Scottish comedian Jane Godley, 63, who was on the receiving end of a barrage of tweets, many of which took aim at her criticism of former US president Donald Trump.

Comedian Janey Godley was also seemingly targetted by Fiona Harvey
Comedian Janey Godley was also seemingly targetted by Fiona Harvey (PA Archive)

“I’m sure he’s not giving a damn what she says,” Harvey appeared to write. “I quite like her but the trump thing is an obsession with her!”

The Independent has reached out to Piers Morgan Uncensored, Netflix and the Labour Party for comment.

The Independent also approached Ms Harvey who chose not to respond to the claims about Sir Keir. However, she did say she was pulling together a legal team to take action against Netflix and other outlets for the defamatory portrayal and for using her image without permission.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in