Sex scandal conclusion rocks first Nobel prize award

Jean-Claude Arnault was jailed just before the award of the medicine prize for advances in cancer treatment

Secretary of the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine, Thomas Perlmann (R) stands next to a screen displaying portraits of James P Allison (L) and Tasuku Honjo during the announcement of the winners of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, during a press conference at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 1, 2018. James P Allison of US and Tasuku Honjo of Japan won Nobel Medicine Prize for their achievements in cancer treatment. / AFP / Jonathan NACKSTRAND
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Attempts by the Nobel Foundation to draw a line under the sex scandal that dogged this year’s awards were undermined on Monday with the jailing of a rapist whose crime prompted the cancellation of this year’s literature prize.

Jean-Claude Arnault, 72, was convicted and sentenced for raping a woman in 2011 by a Stockholm court just minutes before two researchers won the prestigious prize for medicine for their ground-breaking work in the treatment of cancer.

James Allison, of the University of Texas and Tasuko Honjo, of Japan’s Kyoto University, jointly received this year’s $1 million (Dh3.672m) prize for the discovery of a new form of therapy that has revolutionised treatment of the disease.

Their work focused on stimulating the body’s immune system to fight the disease.

Their research led to successful treatment for former US president Jimmy Carter following a diagnosis for skin cancer in 2015 that spread to his brain. He was treated with a drug inspired by the research carried out by Mr Honjo.

Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, congratulated Mr Honjo, 76, during a news conference, saying that his work had given many patients hope.


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The prize for the cancer researchers is the first of just four being awarded this year – for medicine, physics, chemistry and the peace prize – with Thursday’s literature award shelved for a year because of sex and financial controversies.

The scandals, the biggest to hit the Nobels in their 117-year history, was centred on the Swedish academy, which selects the literature award winner.

It started after 18 women came forward in a Swedish newspaper with accusations against Mr Arnault, a French photographer, who is married to a Swedish poet and member of the academy.

An internal inquiry led to the police investigation of Mr Arnault. A judge and three jurors concluded unanimously on Monday that he was guilty of one count of rape but acquitted him of a second. He has denied the claims.

Mr Arnault has also denied leaking the names in advance of seven Nobel literature laureates in advance that were the subject of heavy betting. The allegations against him saw seven members either quit the academy or leave in April.

Following internal disputes played out in the pages of letters in Swedish newspapers, the Nobel academy announced it was postponing the 2018 award to win back public confidence before announcing two winners next year.

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