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Dads launch class action against Mumsnet

Fathers protesting over exclusion from Mumsnet talkboards

A coalition of fathers' groups is to take legal action against Mumsnet, the influential online network of parents, claiming they are the victims of gender discrimination and breaches of the Human Rights Act.

A number of groups representing male parents, including Justice for Fathers, Men Can Be Mothers Too and Fathers Need Forums, have launched a class action, believed to be the biggest of its kind in protest against the site's growing influence over politics and popular culture.

A spokesman for the group, who call themselves Fathers Against Discrimination (FADs), said: "It seems grossly unfair that mothers are constantly asked their opinion and dads are not, purely on the basis of gender. We are concerned that our lack of voice will lead to a culture where increasingly men are seen as an irritating irrelevance useful only for procreation, setting the Sky Plus and removing spiders from the bath."

Mumsnet talkboards regularly host the leaders of the major political parties for webchats, and it is widely known that a number of government departments operate a 'Mumsnet Talk Tracker' to monitor opinion on the site. Mumsnetters' views have been sought by government on family, education, economic, health and global development policy, as well by leading organisations such as the BBC, the United Nations and NATO.

"It seems grossly unfair that mothers are constantly asked their opinion and dads are not"

Melvin Footlong, a dad from Weymouth, reflected the widely held views of many men when he complained: "Because I don't have access to Mumsnet's Am I being Unreasonable boards, I never know if I'm being reasonable or not. It puts me and other dads at a huge disadvantage."

"It's not fair, I want to write EastEnders storylines too," he added.

The FAD spokesman continued: "I don't see David Cameron and Ed Miliband beating a path to mens' sites like EngineHeads - we're worried about the effects of increasingly being marginalised. Next thing we know, we'll have females running the country and women-only boards. It's bound to have a knock-on effect on senior jobs and pay."

Leading media lawyer, Mark Stephens, who defended Mumsnet in its notorious libel battle with the eminently reasonable parenting guru, Gina Ford, confirmed last night that he was representing the Fathers' groups. "Just as Oscar Wilde once suffered for his sexuality, and Hamlet is not Hamlet without the Prince, these men are paying the price of a cruel twist of genetic fate."

Justine Roberts, Mumsnet Founder

Another leading human rights lawyer commented: “This case raises fundamental issues about privacy in the internet age. One of the fathers' complaints is that Mumsnetters are sharing information about every aspect of their private lives, from hygiene habits to genital size. They say they feel that women everywhere are ‘rofling’ at them. Some have become phobic about going online and no longer enjoy exchanging facts about mobile phone specifications. Many now feel so intimidated they can’t even post opinions about Kerry Katona’s breasts on the Daily Mail website. It’s a serious problem.”

Mumsnet Founder Justine Roberts said: "Fathers have always been welcome on Mumsnet, I even keep one in my own house. I find it very useful for the spiders."

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