A senior woman journalist on Monday came out in support of former Union minister MJ Akbar who has been accused of sexual harassment by several women writers.

Appearing before the Patiala House court in Delhi as a complainant witness in the defamation case filed by Akbar against Priya Ramani, Sunday Guardian Editor Joyeeta Basu said that “during the two decades that she had worked with him he had been a perfect gentleman and his behaviour had been exemplary”.

She went on to say that Akbar was a “perfect professional and a tough task-master with the entire staff” of The Asian Age.

“I have known him for twenty years and I have not heard anything untoward from the staff of the organisation in which we have worked together,” Basu told Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal.

He was a public figure who was held in high esteem in society, she added.

She said she always considered Akbar to be a brilliant journalist, a professional, a scholarly writer in her eyes and thorough gentlemen with an impeccable reputation.

She further said that it was from him that she had learnt how to launch a magazine and then a newspaper from scratch.

The court will take up the case again on December 7.

Ramani was the first in a long list of female journalists to accuse Akbar of sexual harassment.

“He has always been a tough taskmaster, a thorough professional and a brilliant teacher, who taught me all aspects of newspaper journalism right from production to story selection to intricacies of layout,” she asserted.

Joyeeta Basu who worked with The Asian Age till 2008, said that Akbar had been “perfectly professional in his dealing with her”.

On being questioned on the intention behind Priya Ramani’s accusation, Basu said, “I believe that this vilification was conducted and these tweets were published intentionally by Ms Priya Ramani with a purpose to harm Akbar’s reputation and goodwill in the eyes of the society”.

Basu said the defamatory tweets by Ramani had irreparably damaged Akbar’s reputation.

The court was hearing the defamation case against Ramani filed by the former Minister of State for External Affairs, a journalist-turned-politician who is now with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The court will take up the case again on December 7.

Ramani was the first in a long list of female journalists to accuse Akbar of sexual harassment.

As the #MeToo movement gained ground, 20 women journalists who have worked with ‘The Asian Age’ newspaper, came out in support of their colleague Priya Ramani who had accused Akbar of sexual harassment.

Read | Former Asian Age editor, a US journalist now, accuses MJ Akbar of rape

Earlier this month, former Asian Age journalist Pallavi Gogoi, in a column in the Washington Post, has accused the minister of rape.

In a strong write-up, former Asian Age journalist Pallavi Gogoi alleged that she had to “pay a very big price” for being editor of the op-ed page at the Asian Age at the age of 23.