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For the first time since 1949, the secretive jury within the Swedish Academy which decides the Nobel Prize for Literature that hands out the world’s most prestigious literary prize will not unveil a winner this autumn, instead revealing two laureates in 2019, it announced on Friday.

A statement said on Friday  that it would not make the award this year because of a sexual misconduct scandal that has caused turmoil in its ranks and led to a string of board members stepping down.

At the root of the institution’s unprecedented crisis are a raft of wide-ranging allegations against Jean-Claude Arnault, a photographer and leading cultural figure in Sweden, who is married to Katarina Frostenson, an academy member and author.

Last November, the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter published detailed allegations by 18 women accusing Arnault of sexual harassment and physical abuse over a period of more than 20 years, in France and Sweden and including at properties owned by the academy.

“The present decision was arrived at in view of the currently diminished academy and the reduced public confidence in the academy,” the body, founded by King Gustav III in 1786 and still under royal patronage, said in a statement.

Three members of the 18-strong academy resigned last month in protest over a decision not to expel Frostenson, followed days later – amid protests that women were being made to carry the can for male misbehaviour – by the permanent secretary, Sara Danius, who had battled in vain to reform it, and by Frostenson herself.