MJ Akbar is a thorough gentleman and a brilliant teacher, one of his former woman colleagues today told a Delhi court hearing the editor's defamation case against a journalist who has accused him of sex harassment in the #MeToo campaign. Journalist Joyeeta Basu, the editor of The Sunday Guardian, also said the 67-year-old had been vilified intentionally.
Joyeeta Basu is one of the six witnesses MJ Akbar has named in the lawsuit that he filed a day after stepping down as union minister in the Narendra Modi government amid multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.
She accused fellow journalist Priya Ramani - the first to come out with her account of sexual harassment by Mr Akbar - of trying to harm the editor's reputation.
"I may have overcome my doubts but I know from the number of questions raised by people I know, his reputation has been destroyed and damaged irrevocably. After reading all the tweets by Ms Priya Ramani, I believe that this vilification was conducted and the tweets published intentionally by Ms Ramani with the purpose to harm Mr Akbar's good reputation and goodwill," she told the court, defending Mr Akbar.
Ms Basu said that she was "shocked, disappointed, embarrassed" to see Priya Ramani's tweets against Akbar and "in spite of my experience with him, his image, his reputation took a beating in my eyes on reading these tweet/article."
"It was aggravated during my interaction with friends and colleagues who had read and heard about the widely publicised tweets and articles and asked me whether he was really like that? They questioned his character and said that his image has taken a severe beating and had been lowered in their eyes. They said that his reputation had been permanently damaged as far as they were concerned," she said.
Ms Basu said she had known Akbar since 1998 and had not heard "anything untoward" from staff wherever they had worked together. "I considered him to be a brilliant journalist, a scholarly writer and a thorough gentleman with an impeccable reputation in my eyes and in the eyes of the public," she told the court.
Mr Akbar has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct and chronic predatory behavior. He has sued only Priya Ramani.
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