A major photography festival has turned its back on World Press Photo amid continued controversy surrounding the annual competition.

Photo: Giovanni Troilo was stripped of his Contemporary Issues title. This image, shown on the photographer’s website,  was in the series he submitted to World Press Photo, though not the one that got him disqualified

Visa Pour L’Image, a highly regarded French photography festival, said it will not show any of this year’s World Press Photo winners, claiming that the controversy surrounding the contest calls into question the values of photojournalism.

Visa Pour L’Image had hoped to stage an exhibition of World Press Photo winners in Perpignan later this year.

But, writing on Facebook on 4 March, Visa Pour L’Image general manager Jean Francois Leroy appeared to suggest that some World Press Photo images are staged.

The decision came as a World Press Photo winner was stripped of his title after misleading judges by stating the incorrect location in the caption of a prize-winning photo.

World Press Photo withdrew the award it handed Italian photographer Giovanni Troilo, who had won first prize in the Contemporary Issues stories category with a series of images entitled ‘The Dark Heart of Europe’.

Troilo admitted that one of the shots, showing a painter creating a work with live models, was actually captured in Molenbeek, Brussels, and not in Charleroi – over 60km away – as he had first claimed.

The mayor of Charleroi took exception to his town’s portrayal as ‘la ville noir’, and an apparent hotbed of insalubrious activity such as drug abuse and ‘micro-criminality’.

Troilo claimed that the image was a symbol for what is taking place in the rest of Europe.

But the controversy led World Press Photo organisers to investigate Troilo’s work after he confirmed that the photo had not been taken in Charleroi.

World Press Photo managing director Lars Boering said the contest must be based on trust and the entrants’ professional ethics. He added: ‘We now have a clear case of misleading information and this changes the way the story is perceived.

‘A rule has now been broken and a line has been crossed.’

A World Press Photo spokeswoman today declined to say whether or not judges are now probing the validity of other prize winners as a result of Troilo’s disqualification.

Troilo’s title loss means that the second-prize story now takes first place.

Troilo had yet to respond to an email request for comment at the time of writing.

B. LARS BOERING (c) Marieke van der Velden.web

World Press Photo managing director Lars Boering

Last week British press photographers joined their American counterparts in calling on entrants disqualified from reaching the finals of World Press Photo to reveal their Photoshopped images.

The move came after it was revealed that one in five images that reached the penultimate round of World Press Photo were rejected on grounds that manipulation compromised their integrity.

Amateur Photographer established that 20 images ended up being axed from the competition.

Jeff Moore, chairman of the British Press Photographers’ Association, said that World Press Photo should be a celebration of news, sports and editorial photography, ‘and not clever post-production’.