Police investigate false accusations in Baby Reindeer after fans mistakenly identify Sean Foley as Richard Gadd's abuser

Richard Gadd as Donny Dunn in
Richard Gadd as Donny Dunn in 'Baby Reindeer' (via Netflix)

Comedian Richard Gadd's friend Sean Foley has filed a police complaint after being falsely accused of abuse. Following the release of Baby Reindeer on Netflix, Foley reportedly received "defamatory abusive and threatening" messages which prompted him to take legal action.

Released on April 11, 2024, Baby Reindeer depicts the story of Donny (Richard Gadd), a stand-up comic and bartender, who is stalked by a woman. Based on true events that happened to Richard Gadd, the series also reveals the abuse he goes through at the hands of a TV writer called Darrien.

In an unfortunate turn of events, Sean Foley was mistakenly identified as the real Darrien by curious netizens. After being the subject of such false allegations and threats, Foley contacted the police who are now seemingly investigating the matter.

Disclaimer: This article may contain spoilers for the Netflix miniseries, Baby Reindeer. It also contains mention of s*xual abuse. Reader discretion is advised.


Sean Foley takes legal action after Baby Reindeer allegations, details explored

According to his bio on X, Sean Foley is a British actor, writer, comedian and director. The 59-year-old Olivier Award winner found himself embroiled in controversy when he was misidentified as Darrien from Baby Reindeer by fans.

In the show, Darrien is a successful TV comedy writer who meets Donny in an Edinburgh club. The two become fast friends, with Darrien even helping Donny to develop his comedic act. However, it is revealed that Darrien frequently drugs and s*xually abuse the latter for years.

Tom Goodman-Hill as Darrien O'Connor (via Netflix)
Tom Goodman-Hill as Darrien O'Connor (via Netflix)

Since it is based on a true story, curious fans began to speculate about the real identity of Darrien, played by Tom Goodman-Hill in the show. This is when Sean Foley, a friend of Richard Gadd, was erroneously labeled as his abuser.

Amidst other speculations involving the identity of Martha, the stalker from the miniseries, Gadd took to his Instagram to request people from making such speculative statements.

On April 22, he wrote in his now-expired Instagram story

"Hi Everyone, People I love, have worked with, and admire (including Sean Foley) are unfairly getting caught up in speculation. Please don’t speculate on who any of the real life people could be. That’s not the point of our show. Lots of love, Richard x X."
Richard Gadd via his Instagram story (@mrrichardgadd)
Richard Gadd via his Instagram story (@mrrichardgadd)

However, Sean Foley seems to have been deeply affected by the false accusations. On April 23, the writer shared on X

"Police have been informed and are investigating all defamatory abusive and threatening posts against me."

While there has been no update since the tweet, it can be assumed that an investigation is currently underway.


“Some characters in it are vulnerable”Richard Gadd on why Martha and Darrien’s true identities remain under wraps

Jessica Gunning as Martha (via Netflix)
Jessica Gunning as Martha (via Netflix)

In the Netflix miniseries, Martha is a woman who stalks Donny after meeting him at a bar. She eventually sends him thousands of text messages, letters, emails, and voicemails, along with gifts. However, her demeanor turns threatening when Donny does not appreciate her actions.

Baby Reindeer's story has sparked curiosity among viewers regarding the real identity of Martha and Darrien. The secrecy behind their real names has fueled various rumors and theories online. Gadd, on his part, has remained tight-lipped about the real-life people who inspired the characters in his show.

A still from 'Baby Reindeer' (via Netflix)
A still from 'Baby Reindeer' (via Netflix)

Talking to Variety in an April 19 article, he explained:

"You can’t do the exact truth, for both legal and artistic reasons. I mean there’s certain protections, you can’t just copy somebody else’s life and name and put it onto television. And obviously, we were very aware that some characters in it are vulnerable people, so you don’t want to make their lives more difficult. So you have to change things to protect yourself and protect other people."

The real identity behind the characters of Darrien and Martha is currently undisclosed.


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Starring Richard Gabb and Jessica Gunning, all seven episodes of Baby Reindeer are currently available to stream on Netflix.

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