Lawyers for Ariel Winter's estranged mother Chrystal Workman have fired off a cease and desist letter to a publicist who alleges he was approached by their client to leak nude images of the teenage actress' older sister and temporary guardian, Shanelle Gray.

The Modern Family star is at the centre of a custody battle after accusing Workman of subjecting her to emotional and physical abuse.

The 14 year old, who plays Alex Dunphy on the Emmy Award-winning show, was placed in the care of her older sister in October (12), and now the case is back in the headlines after publicist Jonathan Hay claimed he had been contacted by Workman and asked to secretly help spread explicit photos of Shanelle to members of the media.

He rejected Workman's reported proposal, but now her lawyers are stepping in to shut him up, reports

Attorney Nick Pacheco sent a formal demand to Hay on Thursday (06Dec12), requesting he stop making "false and defamatory statements" regarding Workman and her guardianship troubles.

Workman has admitted to questioning whether Shanelle was fit to serve as Winter's guardian by sending two old images of her scantily-clad daughter, which she claims to have found on the internet. However, the embattled mum denies ever suggesting Hay leak them.