Nobel literature body rejigs committee after sex scandal

FILE PHOTO: Nobel Foundation CEO Lars Heikensten pose for a picture at the foundation's headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden September 28, 2018. REUTERS/Esha Vaish

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The body that picks the winner of the annual Nobel Prize in Literature is setting up a new selection committee in a bid to draw a line under a sex scandal that forced it to cancel this year’s prize.

After discussions with the Nobel Foundation, which administers the will of the prize’s founder, dynamite-millionaire Alfred Nobel, the Swedish Academy said its new committee would have five of its own members and five external experts that could pick winners in 2019 and 2020.

It gave no further information and could not immediately be reached for comment.

It remains uncertain whether, and under what circumstances, the award would return next year.

Lars Heikensten, chief executive of the Nobel Foundation, told Reuters in an email:

“Early next year a decision on whether a Nobel prize for literature can be awarded for 2018 and 2019 must be taken.”

The 2018 prize was canceled and the Academy’s future role in the award was put into question after the husband of one member was accused of sexually assaulting and harassing women. Jean-Claude Arnault, a photographer, was found guilty of one case of rape. He denies all allegations and has appealed the verdict.

Reporting by Johan Ahlander and Johan Sennero; Editing by Robin Pomeroy