Netflix to fight woman's claim of being inspiration behind "Baby ...

7 Jun 2024
Fiona Harvey

Netflix gains millions of subscribers since crackdown on users sharing passwords

Netflix gains millions of subscribers since crackdown on users sharing passwords 00:17

Netflix is vowing to fight a lawsuit filed by a woman who claims she was "tormented" after being identified by online sleuths as the inspiration behind a stalker character in the popular series "Baby Reindeer." 

Fiona Harvey is seeking $170 million from the streaming service over the show's depiction of her as Martha, a person obsessed with another character, Donny, played by Richard Gadd, the drama's creator. 

The character is shown routinely spending hours outside Donny's home, contacting him repeatedly and subjecting him to sexual and physical assault — events that did not actually occur, according to the complaint filed Thursday in federal court in Los Angeles. 

Harvey, a Scottish attorney living in London, did patronize the London bar where Gadd worked, but does not have a criminal record, as the Martha character possesses in the limited series that premiered in April, her suit states. She was identified as the character Martha due to an expression used in the show that she tweeted in 2014, tagging Gadd.

 "Defamed by Netflix and Richard Gadd at a magnitude and scale without precedent," Harvey could no longer go out in public, according to the suit.

Netflix vows to "defend this matter vigorously and to stand by Richard Gadd's right to tell his story," the company told the Associated Press in an email.

Harvey told British broadcaster Piers Morgan last month that she had sent "a couple of emails," posted about 18 tweets in which she tagged Gadd and mailed one letter, at a time she considered him a friend. She denied Gadd's contention that he based the character of Martha on a person who sent him more than 40,000 emails, 350 hours of voicemails, 744 tweets and 46 Facebook messages across four phony accounts and more than 100 pages of letters during a three-year period.

Gadd on Instagram has called on fans of the show to stop trying to identify the real people behind his characters. He cleared the name of one man who had been mistakenly identified as another character.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Kate Gibson

Kate Gibson is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch in New York, where she covers business and consumer finance.

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