Swedish Academy head resigns amid sexual misconduct allegations at Nobel group

Jean-Claude Arnault with Katarina Frostenson. Mr Arnault has been accused of sexually assaulting 18 women which he denies

The Nobel Foundation Board has sharply criticized the Swedish Academy, which chooses the Nobel Literature Prize victor each year, saying the group has damaged its own reputation and is threatening to tarnish the reputation of the Nobel Prize itself.

Last November, inspired by the #MeToo campaign, 18 women made allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of Academy member Katarina Frostenson.

The public row and defections from the academy have raised concerns that the image of the Nobel prizes and Sweden's reputation overseas could suffer.

Anders Olsson, a 69-year-old writer and literature professor known for his calm demeanour and diplomatic skills, has been appointed the Academy's "temporary" permanent secretary in a bid to unite the 11 remaining Academy members amid the toxic controversy that has divided it into two camps.

Hours after Danius' announcement, the Academy said Arnault's wife, Katarina Frostenson, had also chose to quit from her post on the board.

The prestigious Nobel institution has been troubled by the resignation of Klas Ostergren, Kjell Espmark and Peter Englund Friday, who quit after the secretive 18-member academy voted against removing a female colleague whose husband is embroiled in sexual misconduct allegations.

"This is devastating for the reputation of the Nobel prize", Mattias Berg, who covers cultural affairs for SR radio, told AFP.

Sara Danius announced her decision on Thursday after a three-hour emergency meeting of academy members in central Stockholm.

"It is not yet possible to say how this will damage the Nobel Prize".

In 2016, the Swedish Academy came under heavy fire in some circles for awarding the Nobel Literature Prize to United States singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, who went on to snub the formal prize ceremony in Stockholm.

While they cannot technically resign, they can stop participating in the Academy's activities. Having initially given Arnault financial help to run a cultural club in Stockholm, the Academy has now severed ties with him and launched an internal investigation.

This is not the first time the Academy has faced a wave of resignations. Mr. Arnault has denied the substance of both sexual abuse and conflict of interest allegations.

However, the investigation related to some incidents was continuing, prosecutors confirmed.

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