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Being unkind for not dating single mothers

"What has caused me so much upset has been the defamatory campaign waged against me as a person, in which I have been described in the most vile and disgusting terms."Her lawyers claimed that one posting had intimated that Gina had 'unpleasant and unhygienic personal habits'.Another, that she was 'cruel, uncaring and justifiably reviled'.

But her methods are controversial, provoking eulogy and consternation in equal measure.A documentary for the TV channel Five Life, entitled Gina Ford: Who Are You To Tell Us?, will be screened on March 5 and will cover similar ground.If they fail to reach an agreement - and Gina is demanding a full public apology - she intends to take Mumsnet to court. "I hope they will do the decent thing."The legal action, she insists, is not intended maliciously.In a statement issued through her lawyers, Gina has claimed that any suggestion she was trying to close Mumsnet was 'completely untrue'."I have no objection whatsoever to people discussing or disagreeing with my advice and methods concerning childcare," the statement said.Her supporters - among them Kate Winslet and Heather Mills Mc Cartney - insist that "Gina's babies' are contented, happy and able to sleep through the night from eight weeks old.

Her detractors, who include the childcare experts Miriam Stoppard and Penelope Leach, complain that such rigid adherence to routines is prescriptive and unloving.

It is an episode that has left her exasperated, if not wholly surprised.

Over the years, she has grown used to the vituperative verbal salvoes launched in her direction.

It strikes you instantly that the childcare guru resembles no one quite so much as the likeable fictional nanny Mrs Doubtfire who - appropriately perhaps - used the same firm-but-fair methods that Gina has spectacularly made her own.

You can imagine many a harassed mother being soothed by the gentle balm of Gina's particular brand of cheeriness."All I did was write a tiny little book about sleeping and feeding," she says with a chuckle.

One contributor, the noted child authority Sheila Kitzinger, says that Gina's methods 'treat the baby as if they are the enemy, as if they are feral wild animals who have to be civilised'.