Published: 16/05/2002, Volume II2, No. 5805 Page 5

A consultant who was told she would not go far in her profession because she was black and a woman has won a damages battle against South Tyneside Healthcare trust.

The trust fired Feyi Awotona in December 1998 for 'gross personal misconduct' because she began amassing evidence for a racial discrimination claim, a Newcastle tribunal heard. It upheld Dr Awotona's claims of racial discrimination and unfair dismissal but rejected her claim of sexual discrimination.

Dr Awotona told the tribunal that the 'most obvious example of a comment motivated by race and sex' came from medical director Peter Robson in April 1996, when she wanted to head up local implementation of the government's Changing Childbirth initiative.

'He astonished me by saying that because I was a woman and black, there was a limit to what I could do at South Tyneside.'

The tribunal examined allegations that Dr Awotona vanished from work, leaving a labour ward without a consultant, and that she was obstructive and confrontational. There were further allegations that she was uncontactable on an occasion when she was on call.

Dr Awotona claimed the charges were 'trumped up' and the only reason she was sacked was because of her race and the fact she was pursuing a discrimination case.

And the tribunal found that, 'it was primarily that series of acts which brought about the decision on the part of the respondent to gather evidence for, and then to institute, disciplinary proceedings.

'We were satisfied the making and pursuit of the allegations of racial discrimination resulted in the decision to dismiss the applicant.'

A future hearing will take place to determine the amount of damages awarded to Dr Awotona.