Swedish Academy head quits Nobel body amid sexual misconduct scandal

Last November 18 women made allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of Academy member Katarina Frostenson

Swedish Academy head, Sara Danius has stepped down
Swedish Academy head, Sara Danius has stepped down

The head of the Swedish Academy that awards the Nobel Prize in Literature has stepped down after a sexual abuse scandal.

Sara Danius announced her decision after a three-hour meeting of academy members in central Stockholm. Danius said she had lost the 18-member academy's confidence, but would not comment on whether a vote was held to remove her as permanent secretary.

The organisation has been criticised for its handling of a probe into the alleged sexual misconduct of a man married to one of its members.

"It has already affected the Nobel Prize quite severely and that is quite a big problem," said Sara Danius, as she resigned.

The accused denies all the allegations.

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 Nobel body had cut all ties and funding to Mr Arnault, who runs a cultural club in Stockholm, shortly after the allegations came to light. His lawyer told Reuters that he rejected all the claims against him.

Last week, three male members - Klas Ostergren, Kjell Espmark and Peter Englund - resigned over the academy's vote not to remove Frostenson. 

"It was the wish of the Academy that I should leave my role as Permanent Secretary," Danius told reporters on Thursday. "I have made this decision with immediate effect."

While they cannot technically resign, they can stop participating in the Academy's activities.

The Nobel Foundation Board sharply criticized the Swedish Academy on Wednesday, saying the group was threatening to tarnish the reputation of the Nobel Prize.

The foundation issued a statement noting that "trust in the Swedish Academy has been seriously damaged" and demanding that the group take specific actions to restore that trust.

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