New Delhi: Minister of state for external affairs MJ Akbar on Sunday issued a statement over sexual assault allegations made against him. 

In the statement given to ANI, he said, “The allegations of misconduct made against me are false and fabricated, spiced up by innuendo and malice. I could not reply earlier as I was on an official tour abroad. Accusation without evidence has become a viral fever among some sections. Whatever be the case, now that I have returned, my lawyers will look into these wild and baseless allegations in order to decide our future course of legal action.”

He hinted at political vendetta and said, “Why has this storm risen a few months before a general election? Is there an agenda? You be the judge. These false, baseless and wild allegations have caused irreparable damage to my reputation and goodwill”.

Akbar threatened to take legal action against the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct. He said, “Lies do not have legs, but they do contain poison, which can be whipped into a frenzy. This is deeply distressing. I will be taking appropriate legal action”.

Speaking about Priya Ramani, who was the first to name the minister on social media platform Twitter, Akbar said, "Priya Ramani began this campaign a year ago with a magazine article. She did not, however, name me as she knew it was an incorrect story. When asked recently why she had not named me, she replied, in a Tweet: 'Never named him because he didn't 'do' anything.'"

"If I didn't do anything, where&what is the story? There's no story. But a sea of innuendo, speculation&abusive diatribe has been built around something that never happened.  Some are total, unsubstantiated hearsay; others confirm, on the record, that I didn’t do anything," he added.

Akbar also spoke about a few other women who accused him of sexual harassment.

In his statement, Akbar said: "Shutapa Paul states, 'The man never laid a hand on me.' Shuma Raha says, 'I must clarify, however, that he didn’t actually ‘do’anything'.One woman, Anju Bharti, went to the absurd extent of claiming I was partying in a swimming pool. I do not know how to swim. Another accusation was made repeatedly by Ms Ghazala Wahab, in an effort to damage my reputation. She claimed that she had been molested in office, 21 years ago. This is 16 years before I entered public life, and when I was in media. The only office where I worked with Ghazala Wahab was that of The Asian Age. A part of the editorial team then worked out of a small hall. At the time concerned, I had a very tiny cubicle, patched together by plywood and glass. Others had tables and chairs two feet away. Pertinent to remember Ms Ramani &Ms Wahab kept working with me even after these alleged incidents; clearly establishes they had no apprehension&discomfort. Reason why they remained silent for decades is very apparent, as Ms Ramani has herself stated, I never did anything".

Akbar returned to New Delhi on Sunday from a foreign tour, following which he told the media that he will release a statement on the matter "later on."

Shortly, according to reports, he tendered his resignation via email. The letter was sent to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

There was an indication by the BJP that it is likely to take a clear stand on allegations of sexual harassment against Akbar once he explains his position upon his return.

Akbar was the founding editor of The Telegraph, had launched The Asian Age and worked at a number of other media organisations, including India Today and The Sunday Guardian.

Several journalists have come forward with their accounts detailing alleged sexual misconduct by Akbar. The women who accused Akbar of sexual harassment are Priya Ramani, Prerna Singh Bindra, Ghazala Wahab, Shuma Raha, Saba Naqvi, Kadambari M Wade, Harinder Baweja, Anju Bharti, Suparna Sharma, Shuma Raha, Malini Bhupta, Kanika Gahlaut, Majlie de Puy Kamp, and Shutapa Paul.

Akbar had sought a meeting with Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj.