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Andrew Quilty dumped for ‘inappropriate behaviour’

World Press Photo (WPP) withdrew Andrew Quilty’s invitation from its award ceremony after receiving allegations of unspecified ‘inappropriate behaviour’.

Andrew Quilty. Photo: Balazs Gardi.

While WPP says the allegations came from ‘reliable sources’, the award-winning freelance Australian photojournalist isn’t aware of committing such offences.

‘No allegations of inappropriate behaviour have been made known to me,’ said Quilty’s statement via his lawyer. ‘As a supporter of my female colleagues and the #MeToo movement, I would frankly and openly address any concerns about my conduct, if raised.’

Related: Quilty until proven innocent?

This is the first time in its history WPP has cancelled an invitation for an award-winning photographer, with Quilty taking out third place in the Spot News category of the 2019 contest for his series showing the aftermath of an ambulance packed with explosives that killed 103 people and injured 235 in Kabul, Afghanistan, on January 27 last year.  

‘The World Press Photo Foundation believes visual journalism needs its community to be united against discrimination and harassment,’ Lars Boering, managing director of the World Press Photo Foundation, told Columbia Journalism Review. ‘Our protocol is that when we learn from reliable sources that someone associated with us has allegedly engaged in inappropriate behaviour we take action. Because of our protocol, we called him on 2 April to say he was not welcome at our Awards Show and Festival.’

Boering comes across as slightly miffed the WPP doesn’t have the power to revoke Quilty’s award, but a review of the rules is now underway.

‘On the basis of the contest entry rules we do not currently have the grounds to do so,’ he said. ‘He received an award after the jury judged all entries anonymously, and the jury was not aware of his identity or his alleged misconduct when making the award. We will be reviewing our rules for the 2020 contest.’

From ‘Ambulance Bomb’ by Andrew Quilty, third place in the Spot News Stories category. Some of these photos featured in The New York Times. ‘Shopkeepers, passers-by and residents run from the scene, seconds after an ambulance bomb explodes in Kabul, Afghanistan. 27 January 2018.’

Quilty, represented by Agence VU, has been based in Kabul, Afghanistan since 2013 and is dedicated to telling intimate stories of the ordinary and extraordinary people in the war torn country. He won the 2016 Gold Walkley, Australia’s top journalism award, for his image The Man on the Operating Table.

‘Telling the greater story of Afghanistan is part of the reason why I’m compelled to stay. It’s a developing story, and I’m one of the few photographers who’ve stayed here to illustrate the story. I enjoy being one of the few here,’ Quilty told Capture magazine in 2018. ‘Professionally, though, it’s a place where I’m able to work and sustain myself, which is a practical matter I can’t ignore. But every day, I’m always ready to go out on my motorcycle and take pictures of whatever I come across, even if I’m not getting paid.’

Quilty may have to get used to ‘not getting paid’. Prestigious clients have begun cutting all ties with the photographer.

The New York Times, National Geographic, and Time have no plans to work with the Australian in the future.

‘Since learning of the allegations, Time has not worked with Andrew Quilty and has no future commitments to work with him at this time,’ a spokesperson for the magazine told CJR.

It seems that Quilty’s ‘inappropriate behaviour’, which none of the organisations who have dumped the previously highly-respected photographer have had the courage to articulate, has potentially career-ending consequences.

It’s surprising that journalistic institutions committed to integrity and transparency have gone public with their respective punishments, without providing the slightest hint as to what he has done.

Interesting times. More to come.

Complementary commentary:

Dumping Quilty: Mean-spirited, unfair and lacking transparency


  1. John Mann John Mann June 15, 2019

    Disgraceful. He is the most honorable human on the planet. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

  2. Ingrid Mann Ingrid Mann June 15, 2019

    How is this possible that he’s been accused of something by someone and Andrew does not know by whom or what he has done. In the meantime it has caused him so much angst. Considering he is such a humanitarian person this situation seems totally disgusting and improper. How is this possible‼️‼️‼️‼️

  3. Marie Lo Cascio Marie Lo Cascio June 17, 2019

    As a woman who has put up with “inappropriate behaviour” in and out of the workplace by both genders I think it’s imperative there there is a fair and principled process that people can rely on so that both parties can trust that the process is not one sided and that any punitive measures taken are based on evidence that has been appropriately and independently evaluated. Knee jerk reactions will end up discrediting genuine cases where people have suffered abuses of power.

  4. Roger Garwood Roger Garwood June 19, 2019

    It is extraordinarily inappropriate that any news organisation would take these the actions against Andrew Quilty. Respected news outlets have a commitment to the public and to their industry to follow fairly basic outlines in exposing the truth of situations. Those actions should be exposed, hopefully in a balanced presentation of views which include all sides of the story.
    In this instance Quilty has been publicly condemned on the basis of no credible information having been made public. That is manifestly unfair to him and to overall professionalism of these organisations. Their credibility is taking a hit in this matter.

  5. Azadkochai Azadkochai February 22, 2021

    those who wants to know the names of female colleagues of him who accused him of inappropriate behaviour should know that he is working in afghanistan and to say such thing publicly will not only make their life in danger but will also put immense pressure on female journalist in the country to convince their families to work with foreign press. I am sure the complaints are nothing but truth and valid

  6. Richard Butler Richard Butler August 26, 2021

    In Australia and in most developed countries a person is innocent until proven beyond reasonable doubt otherwise. To professionally suffocate anyone for any allegation until proven fact is disgraceful. And those organisations subscribing to this need to be aware, their positions are well observed.

    • Will Shipton Will Shipton Post author | August 27, 2021

      Hey Richard,
      And if you follow Andrew on Instagram, his on the ground coverage and of the events unfolding in Kabul, and knowledge of the region, is vital journalism. It’s a shame his work is barred from appearing in several major media outlets due to uninvestigated and unproven allegations.

  7. Jose Jose September 13, 2021

    Like to see the accusers face and explain themselves where the prove?

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