Former Union Minister MJ Akbar told a Delhi court on Wednesday that the allegations of sexual misconduct against him by journalist Priya Ramani had lowered his reputation in the eyes of the public.
Terming Ramani’s allegations false, Akbar said that ‘an ‘immediate damage’ had been done due to the ‘scurrilous,’ concocted and false allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against him, reported news agency PTI.
Akbar, who resigned as the junior foreign minister amidst serious allegations of sexual misconduct, appeared before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal to record his statement. He has filed a defamation case against Ramani in Delhi’s Patiala House Court.
“Indeed there was an immediate damage because of the scurrilous nature of these concocted and false allegations. I was attacked in my personal capacity about alleged and fabricated non-events allegedly done two decades ago,” Akbar said in his statement.
According to news agency ANI, the journalist-turned-politician said that he had filed criminal defamation complaint against Priya Ramani for ‘a series of tweets that she published.’ “First one came to my notice on my return from my official tour. The tweet had a link to an article in a magazine called Vogue,” he added.
He said that the ‘defamatory/offending portion’ in particular apart from the rest of the article was ‘when she (journalist Priya Ramani) referred’ to him as a ‘talented predator’ and an expert on ‘so-and-so.’
The court has fixed 12 November as the next date of hearing, when statements from witnesses will be recorded. While resigning from the cabinet on 17 October, Akbar had said, “Since I have decided to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levied against me, also in a personal capacity. I have, therefore, tendered my resignation from the office of Minister of State for External Affairs. I am deeply grateful to the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and to the External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj for the opportunity they gave me to serve my country.”
Without naming Akbar, Ramani had said how Akbar had invited her to her hotel room for a job interview. Admitting that she was a fan of Akbar’s journalism, Ramani wrote, “It was more date, less interview. You offered me a drink from the mini bar (I refused, you drank vodka), we sat on a small table for two that overlooked the Queen’s Necklace (how romantic!) and you sang me old Hindi songs after inquiring after my musical preferences. You thought you were irresistible.”
Since then, over a dozen other woman journalists had come forward to level similar allegations against Akbar during his time as the editor of The Telegraph and The Asian Age.