The Swedish Academy said Friday that names of some previous Nobel literature laureates had been leaked in advance, and pledged to redraw the ancient rules governing how it functions, amid a sexual misconduct scandal and mass exodus of members that has cast a shadow on the secretive Nobel group.
The group also said alleged sexual misconduct by a man married to one of its members, which has plunged the academy into controversy, had not been commonly known within the institution.
The prestigious academy, established in 1786 by King Gustav III, commissioned an investigation by a law firm.
In the ensuing investigation of the sexual misconduct case relating to Jean-Claude Arnault, a photographer and well-known cultural figure linked to the academy, allegations emerged that the identities of previous winners of the prize had been divulged in advance.
“The investigation … shows that violations of the academy’s confidentiality rules have occurred regarding the work of the Nobel Prize in Literature,” the academy wrote in a statement on its findings.
It did not identify the source of the leaks.
The investigation also showed that “unacceptable behaviour in the form of unwanted intimacy” from the man had occurred, but that this had not been “generally known” within the academy, it said.
Findings sent to authorities
The academy said the investigation would be turned over to law enforcement agencies. The Swedish Economic Crime Authority tweeted it had received the academy report but declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
On the sidelines of the probe, the academy said Friday it found a letter it received in December 1996 in which the sender drew attention to a suspected sexual assault at Arnault’s cultural centre, which had received funding from the academy.
The group said it “deeply regrets that the letter was put aside, which meant that no action was taken to investigate,” and distanced itself from sexual harassment and sexual violence “wherever it occurs.”
“Our conflict of interest rules will also be reviewed and there will be better procedures for communication within the academy, but also with the outside world,” the academy said.
Bjorn Hurtig, lawyer representing Arnault, could not be reached for comment on Friday. But he previously told Reuters his client denies all allegations of sexual harassment, and others, including leaking names of winners.
Protest outside academy
The group said the reputation of the Nobel Prize in Literature, which every year puts the Nordic country in the international spotlight, had been greatly damaged by the bad publicity. But it said that the committee that picks this year’s winner was working as normal.
The academy’s permanent secretary, Sara Darius, the first woman to hold the post, resigned over the scandal, as did member Katarina Frostenson, a poet who is married to Arnault.
Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf said Thursday he will change the rules of the academy, making it possible to bring in new members for the 18-person board, after six members departed in wake of the controversy.
The case has exposed bitter divisions within the academy, whose members are appointed for life, and given rise to accusations of patriarchal leanings among some members.
The scandal has sparked outrage in the Scandinavian nation known for promoting gender equality. On Thursday, thousands gathered outside the Swedish Academy to demand all its remaining members resign.
Source : cbc