Nobel Prize for Literature postponed after sex abuse allegations

The Swedish Academy said no decision would be made this year, after it found itself in a 'crisis'. Credit:

The Nobel Prize for Literature will be not awarded this year following sex abuse allegations at the Swedish Academy, organisers have announced.

The Nobel Foundation said that the “crisis in the Swedish Academy has adversely affected the Nobel Prize”.

Carl-Henrik Heldin, chairman of the board of the Nobel Foundation, said in a statement posted on Twitter: “The Swedish Academy has decided to postpone the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature, with the intention of awarding it in 2019.”

It will be the first time since wartime 1943 that the prestigious award is not handed out.

The other Nobel Prizes will still be awarded in 2018, only the prize for literature has been affected.

The "crisis" within the Swedish Academy - which only hands out one of the six Nobel prizes - was triggered by abuse allegations against the husband of one of the Academy members.

The academy later admitted in a report that "unacceptable behavior in the form of unwanted intimacy" took place within its ranks, but its handling of the allegations shredded the body's credibility, called into question its judgment and forced its first female leader to resign.

A debate over how to face up to its flaws also divided its 18 members who are appointed for life, into hostile camps and prompted seven members of the prestigious institution to leave or disassociate themselves from the group.

At this week's meeting, members agreed to review the academy's operating practices, according to a statement released by the body.

The academy said that "work on the selection of a laureate is at an advanced stage and will continue as usual in the months ahead but the Academy needs time to regain its full complement."

Mr Heldin continued: “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.

"None of this impacts the awarding of the 2018 Nobel Prizes in other prize categories.

“The Nobel Foundation presumes that the Swedish Academy will now put all its efforts into the task of restoring its credibility as a prize-awarding institution and that the Academy will report the concrete actions that are undertaken.

“We also assume that all members of the Academy realise that both its extensive reform efforts and its future organisational structure must be characterised by greater openness towards the outside world.”

Anders Olsson said time needs to be taken to 'recover public confidence'. Credit: PA

The interim permanent secretary of the Academy, Anders Olsson, said in a statement: “We find it necessary to commit time to recovering public confidence in the Academy before the next laureate can be announced.

This is out of respect for previous and future literature laureates, the Nobel Foundation and the general public.”

The decision was reached at a meeting in Stockholm with the 2018 prize to be given in 2019.