A photographer who was stripped of his Wildlife Photographer of the Year award amid suspicions that a 'model wolf' featured in his winning picture has been banned from the competition for life.

A photographer who was stripped of his Wildlife Photographer of the Year award amid suspicions that a ‘model wolf’ featured in his winning picture has been banned from the competition for life.

Earlier today Spanish photographer José Luis Rodriguez lost the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year title when he was disqualified by organisers.

Rodriguez had entered a photo of an ‘Iberian wolf’ jumping over a gate.

But strict rules ban model animals from featuring in photos entered into the 46-year-old contest.

The photographer, who strongly denies the accusation, was declared the overall winner of the 2009 title in October.

It has since emerged that competition organisers held back the £10,000 cash prize when the allegations first came to light.

A spokeswoman for the Natural History Museum, co-owners of the contest, said this afternoon: ‘José Luis Rodriguez is no longer permitted to enter the competition in future.’

She added: ‘The [£10,000] cheque is not presented on the awards night or directly afterwards. Once the allegations came to light, the payment was held back until the resolution of the investigation.’

She confirmed: ‘He did receive a £500 cheque at the awards ceremony for winning a category of the competition, which he may retain in lieu of royalty payments due to him for use of his image to date.’

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