Nobel Prize for Literature postponed following sex abuse allegations

The Nobel Prize for Literature will not be awarded this year following sex abuse allegations which have tarnished the reputation of the Swedish Academy.

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

The Swedish Academy, which decides the winner of the annual prize, said that the 2018 award will be given in 2019.

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 announcement follows a crisis for the Swedish Academy, over its handling of a scandal linked to Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of an academy member.

Bjorn Hurtig, the lawyer for Arnault, 71, has denied the allegations, telling The Associated Press that his client is the victim of "a witch hunt" and the claims "may only have the purpose of harming" him.

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The decision to postpone the prize this year was reached at a meeting in Stockholm.

Carl-Henrik Heldin, chairman of the board of the Nobel Foundation, said in a statement posted on Twitter that it supported the decision.

"The Swedish Academy has decided to postpone the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature, with the intention of awarding it in 2019," he said.

"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."

Previous winners of the most prestigious prize in literature, worth around £842,000, include Remains Of The Day author Kazuo Ishiguro, surprise choice Bob Dylan, Doris Lessing and Harold Pinter.

It will be the first time since 1943 - during the Second World War - that the award, which began in 1901, is not handed out.