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Quaker Oats £10,000 photo comp won by BBC stylist sparks fury from porridge fans

A BBC food stylist sparked oat-rage after scooping the top prize in a photo competition for amateurs. Quaker Oats are embroiled in the “fixing” scandal after professional recipe writer …

A BBC food stylist sparked oat-rage after scooping the top prize in a photo competition for amateurs.

Quaker Oats are embroiled in the "fixing" scandal after professional recipe writer Charlotte O’Connell bagged the £10,000 prize.

Porridge fans expressed their outrage and professional photographer Charlotte O'Connell's victory in a Quakers Oats amateur photo competition

The company asked fans to send in snaps of their favourite recipes to enter the weekly #ShowUsYourOats draw.

They investigated Charlotte’s win after it emerged she has worked on dozens of big-money campaigns, including on the BBC’s The Big Family Cooking Showdown hosted by Great British Bake Off champ Nadiya Hussain.

Her slick website, where she describes herself as an “experienced recipe writer”, also boasts of working alongside food giants Tesco, Itsu and Cadbury.

Eyebrows were also raised after she appeared to enter a pic from a professional photographer’s online business portfolio – breaching rules that ban people entering other people’s pictures.

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Quaker were forced to investigate claims that Charlotte O'Connell is a professional photographer

However on Tuesday Quaker ruled the victory was fair, prompting backlash from angry fans who cried foul play.

Sara O'shea wrote on Facebook: “This promotion really is the most unfair, misleading and mismanaged shambles I have ever seen.

“I think you will find that many of your customers will disagree with your decision considering they provided you with valid evidence.”

Olivia Kirby added: “Me too, I'm shocked. It clearly had been commissioned for other purposes. I really hate things like this!”

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Ms O'Connell's website reveals she is a food stylist with over four years of experience working around the world

Laura Haines-Gill added: “Oh good, yet another professional photographer winning the competition.

“Rather than running a competition, why not just pay some professional photographers to create some shots for you?”

The ten-week competition started on January 1 and will see £100,000 given away in total.

It has been promoted by a national TV and social media advertising campaign as well as on boxes of the oats.

Other entrants' efforts were far less enhanced and professional than Ms O'Connell's

Examples of “amateurs” invited to enter the contest include a busy mum taking a snap of her breakfast on her phone and a builder in a hi-vis jacket taking a similar snap.

However, it was professional recipe developer Charlotte who won with her dish of fig, pistachio and honeycomb on February 23.

Fans quickly alerted adjudicators to her profession and that the image appeared on her website, apparently taken by food photographer Kay Lockett, before it was quickly deleted.

They pointed out online guidelines that state: “Entrants must only submit images that are exclusively their own work.

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Quaker Oats UK announced the £10,000 prize had gone to O'Connell on their Facebook page

“Entrants must not upload images which have been previously published in any medium whatsoever, or won an award or prize via any promotion or competition of any nature.”

However, the company posted on their Facebook page on Tuesday: “Hi all, together with PromoVeritas, we have fully investigated the winner’s entry from last week and are satisfied that no terms and conditions have been breached.

“This decision is final, and we’d like to thank you again for bringing this matter to our attention.”

Fans were also upset after an Instagram yoga and healthy eating model won.

The 140-year-old American company was bought by PepsiCo for around $13.4billion in 2001.

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A spokesperson for Quaker Oats said: “We’ve received thousands of entries to our promotion, and have been thrilled to give away more than £50,000 to individuals and families across the UK.

“The competition was open to everyone.

“However, in light of some of the feedback we’ve had, we’ve decided to choose an additional £10,000 winner.”

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