Nobel Prize for literature postponed in wake of sex scandal

Award postponed after new details emerge on Swedish Academy's handling of a sexual and financial misconduct scandals.

    The Academy said it aimed to award two prizes, including for this year, in 2019 [Fredrik Sandberg/TT News Agency/via Reuters]
    The Academy said it aimed to award two prizes, including for this year, in 2019 [Fredrik Sandberg/TT News Agency/via Reuters]

    The Swedish Academy has announced that no Nobel Prize for literature will be awarded this year, in the wake of a financial and sexual scandal that has engulfed the body responsible for selecting the winner.

    The Academy said on Friday that it aimed to award two prizes, including for this year, in 2019.

    The controversy comes from Jean-Claude Arnault, a prominent figure in Swedish cultural institutions.

    Arnault has been accused of multiple acts of sexual assault and harassment, including one incident in which he allegedly touched Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria inappropriately.

    Six members of the group have resigned in recent weeks, including Katarina Frostenson, Arnault's wife.
    The Academy cut ties with Arnault in 2017, shortly after the allegations became public.

    Bjorn Hurtig, the lawyer representing Arnault, has said his client denies the allegations.

    The decision to postpone naming a Nobel laureate was taken at a meeting by the committee's 10 remaining members on Thursday.

    "The crisis in the Swedish Academy has adversely affected the Nobel Prize. Their decision underscores the seriousness of the situation and will help safeguard the long-term reputation of the Nobel Prize," the foundation said in a statement released Friday.

    The foundation has faced further criticism for providing funding to a cultural centre headed by Arnault and Frostenson in an apparent breach of conflict of interest regulations.

    An independent investigation commissioned by the Swedish Academy found evidence of financial misconduct and "unacceptable behaviour" by Arnault "in the form of unwanted intimacy, but the knowledge was not widely spread in the Academy".

    However, the investigation found a letter dating back to 1996 which alleged sexual misconduct on Arnault's part, suggesting a long history of impropriety.

    The Swedish Academy said in an April statement that it "deeply regrets that the letter was shelved and no measures taken to investigate the charges."

    The delay for the 2018 prize in literature will not affect other awards, the Nobel Foundation statement said.

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