A hospital doctor fired after being told she was limited because she was a black woman has regained her job after a five-year legal battle.

Dr Feyi Awotona, a highly qualified consultant, won her case for unfair dismissal and will get back her job despite the years of in-fighting with other senior doctors.

The tribunal has ruled that Dr Awotona resumes as a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at South Tyneside District Hospital.

The tribunal ruled she must be allowed to return to the £68,000-a-year job by April 1, and also awarded her a pay-out of £148,704 for lost earnings. She is expected to receive a substantial additional compensation payment at a further hearing.

Nigerian Dr Awotona, 46, a mother-of-three, was sacked in December 1998 for gross personal misconduct following an inquiry at South Tyneside District Hospital that resulted from three years of clashes with senior staff.

The tribunal found she had been dismissed because she had been amassing evidence against her bosses for a racial discrimination claim.

The investigation centred on allegations that she vanished from work, leaving a labour ward without a consultant and that she was obstructive and confrontational.

They also criticised the time she spent studying for a postgraduate degree at Durham University.

But Dr Awotona, of Gosforth, Newcastle, claimed she was victimised by South Tyneside Health Trust.

She said she had been astonished when her medical director, Peter Robson, said there was a limit to what she could do because of her race and gender.