Josie d'Arby investigates a photographer
We investigate the conman posing as a world-class photographer by claiming the work of top international snappers as his own. Mark Stothard - the photographer - has also let down a number of business clients and customers.
Mark Stothard likes to be known simply as "markthephotographer".
On his website of the same name, he says he has worked for some of the biggest names in business.
But Mr Stothard is also a conman who has left companies thousands of pounds out of pocket.
And his attempts to be recognised as a legitimate photographer involve some bare-faced lying.
Mr Stothard, 40, from Minehead, Somerset, is the only person to have been kicked out of the British Press Photographers' Association (BPPA).
The BPPA discovered he had used pictures from a leading picture agency to represent his work to potential clients.
Neil Turner, BPPA vice-chairman, said: "In an unregulated industry like ours people like Mark Stothard are causing havoc.
"They're deceiving clients, they're ripping off other photographers and the damage he's doing and people like him are doing is enormous."
Neil Turner - expresses concern.
Mr Stothard has carried on working as a photographer.
He has even given his services free to charity and to the Minehead-based West Somerset Post.
But after a falling out over money, Post Editor John Thorne did some digging into markthephotographer's past.
He said: "We found out that people had done work for him and hadn't been paid for it.
"Some were owed considerable sums of money and most of these people were small businesses - they couldn't afford not to get paid."
They include Lance Rice, who is owed more than £1,000 by markthephotographer for office supplies.
"That money he owes me nearly took me under," he said.
"I could have lost my house and our family could have been in all sorts of financial trouble.
"We've got to stop him doing it to someone else."
Customers let down
Mark Stothard should not even be involved in running a business. He is currently serving a 10-year ban from acting as a director.
We spoke to people across the country who have unpaid court orders against markthephotographer for thousands of pounds worth of debt.
But it is not just Mr Stothard's business practices that are causing trouble.
Caught on camera - markthephotographer.
Organisations who have commissioned his photography are also being let down.
Monarch Airlines saw his website and paid him to take photographs to promote a new livery.
Jo Robertson, Monarch's head of PR, said: "Mark Stothard is not the world-class photographer he portrays himself as. The standard and quality of his photos is very poor.
"But despite this the contract was signed with him and we were therefore obliged as a business to pay him for his work.
"After paying him he subsequently took hundreds of pounds off my Monarch company credit card that he wasn't entitled to."
And Mark Stothard is still up to his old tricks.
His latest website boasts dozens of glossy pictures, showing a photographer at his best.
But, in fact, most of the photographs on Mr Stothard's site are not taken by him.
One of the pictures he claims as his was actually taken by the Brussels-based photographer Morgan David de Lossy.
Morgan David de Lossy - the snapper.
Mr David de Lossy said: "He chooses well. It's an image that sells well so he's taking money right out of my pocket. It gets me really angry."
We asked Mr Stothard for an interview but he declined to deal with our questions in detail.
In a statement, he said: "It would be inappropriate to comment… as doing so may prejudge current legal action."
Since we put our allegations to Mr Stothard, the markthephotographer website has gone offline.
The BPPA has warned other organisations to be aware of Mr Stothard's activities.
last updated: 19/02/2009 at 12:47