A harassment lawsuit has been filed by a lawyer, Imran Rahim against the Reform Party’s Charles Yeo for allegations made against Mr Rahim on the bases of sexual misconduct.
The suit also includes the act of racially charged comments made by Mr Yeo about the plaintiff.
Mr Rahim, who is a senior associate at Tan Kok Quan Partnership (TKQP) law firm, filed the lawsuit under the Protection from Harassment Act against Mr Yeo who posted allegations on Instagram about the former’s sexual misconduct and harassment of interns and young debaters.
The latter also said Mr Rahim should be “cancelled as a human being” as he is a predator and danger to women, and called him a “race traitor”.
The lawsuit was filed last week, according to Mr Yeo’s lawyer M Ravi.
“We have firm instructions to enter Charles’ defence and my team and I will defend the case vigorously,” Mr Ravi wrote on Facebook.
The human rights lawyer added that he will be defending Mr Yeo on a pro bono basis even though Mr Yeo had offered to raise the funds through crowdfunding.
Legal redress will include Mr Yeo taking down the allegations and restitution for the costs of the proceedings incurred by Mr Rahim, Mr Ravi added.
Mr Ravi also said that Mr Imran will be represented by Abraham Vergis and a team from Providence Law Asia.
The date of the first court hearing has been fixed for the end of August.
The Protection from Harassment Act outlines protection for victims of harassment by false statements of fact.
Sexual misconduct allegations
On Tuesday (21 Jul), Mr Yeo revealed on Instagram a message he received from a member of a public who alleged that Mr Rahim sexually abused young debaters using alcohol, and hitting on legal interns inappropriately.
Another said in a direct message to Mr Yeo that the debaters were preyed on and traumatised to the point of resignation.
By Thursday (24 Jul), Mr Yeo said that 10 members of the public had come forward with claims against Mr Rahim.
Law firm launched investigations
When these came to light, it gained enough traction that led TKQP to initiate investigations into this matter on Wednesday (22 Jul).
“The firm takes all allegations impacting an employee’s moral, social and professional standing as an individual, as a member of the firm and in the larger scheme of things, as a member of the legal profession very seriously,” said a spokesperson from the firm.
TKQP is currently looking into the matter and making its own inquiries into these allegations.
“The firm implements a zero-tolerance policy towards any matter concerning sexual impropriety,” the spokesperson added.
“While the firm already has in place a reporting policy/procedure for grievances such as sexual harassment and other improprieties, it has reminded all employees that they should not hesitate to reach out to management if they have concerns over this matter.”
Mr Rahim is still on a voluntary leave of absence.
Charles Yeo stands by his posts and challenges a defamation suit or POFMA to be served to him
Mr Yeo said he is ready “to fight this war with Imran Rahim if he tries to silence him or issue any takedown notice”, like a defamation suit.
He added that “his whole point is he thinks he has the right to condemn Imran Rahim for his actions” and Mr Yeo views “such actions as very typical of pappie (father) predators”.
The RP member disagreed with the opinion of some that sexual misconduct is a cultural norm in the law industry, and even rampant in TKQP itself.
His ultimate view is “Imran Rahim should be cancelled as a human being and fired from his job,” Mr Yeo said. “He would also be a danger to women generally and is a predator.”
In a Facebook post on Thursday afternoon (23 Jul), which has since been taken down, he said he challenges Mr Rahim once again to file Protection from Harassment Act complaints against him or serve him the Writ of Defamation.
“It doesn’t matter whether Imran Rahim is a NUS law graduate, an accomplished debater, a lawyer, or connected with the PAP; all allegations against him must be investigated.”
Mr Yeo ended the post calling Mr Rahim “a filthy race traitor whose actions show to be a typical predatory pappie”.
Mr Rahim’s response to allegations
He said on Instagram on 23 July that he will take the necessary steps to vindicate himself after denying the “wide-ranging allegations” of workplace sexual misconduct.
Mr Rahim also denied the claims and said that he does not know Mr Yeo.
Background of Imran Rahim
Mr Rahim is most prominent for being part of the legal team that represented Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the lawsuit against Roy Ngerng in 2014.
He is also active in the PAP circle serving as a grassroots community volunteer since 2016.
He has worked alongside ministers such as Education Minister Ong Ye Kung and Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli.
In a speech in 2018, Mr Ong said he had gotten to know Mr Imran through his work in Sembawang GRC, lauding him as an accomplished debater.
Mr Rahim was the champion and best speaker at the United Asian Debating Championships in 2011, and was also a quarterfinalist at the World Universities Debating Championship held in the same year.
As for Mr Masagos, he cited Mr Rahim in his speech during the Budget debate last year, saying that the lawyer had begun volunteering in Woodlands in 2016.
Mr Masagos said he used his legal experience to work with other young lawyers, holding legal talks and pro bono legal clinics for residents and helped out with community events, and described Mr Rahim as an “everyday hero”.
Mr Rahim was also involved in a high-profile marriage to social media influencer Andrea Chong where they tied the knot in March.