Newswatch presenter Samira Ahmed has won her sex discrimination equal pay claim against the BBC, a judge at the London Central Employment Tribunal has ruled.

Employment Judge H Grewal and panel members Mr S Godecharle and Mr P Secher ruled unanimously that the BBC had failed to prove the difference in her pay and the pay of Points of View presenter Jeremy Vine was "because of a material factor which did not involve subjecting the claimant to sex discrimination".

A 40-page judgment posted on the judiciary website said: "The unanimous judgment of the Tribunal is that by virtue of the sex equality clause the terms relating to pay in the Claimant's contracts for presenting "Newswatch" from 1 October 2012 to 30 September 2018 are modified so as not to be less favourable than the terms relating to pay in Jeremy Vine's contracts for presenting "Points of View" from 2008 to July 2018 because:

"(i) Her work on "Newswatch" was like Jeremy Vine's work on "Points of View" under section 65(1) of the Equality Act 2010; and

"(ii) The Respondent has not shown that the difference in pay was because of a material factor which did not involve subjecting the Claimant to sex discrimination (section 69(1) of Equality Act 2010)."

Ms Ahmed tweeted: "Very important. I'd like to thank the judge and panel members of my employment tribunal for their time and consideration and their judgement. Thankyou."

BBC Radio 4 presenter Jane Garvey praised Ahmed on Twitter, writing: "Just brilliant @SamiraAhmedUK - it took real courage and she has it. #equalpay."

Following the ruling, Ms Ahmed said in a statement released via the National Union of Journalists (NUJ): "No woman wants to have to take action against their own employer. I love working for the BBC. I'm glad it's been resolved.

"I'd like to thank my union the NUJ, especially Michelle Stanistreet the general secretary, my legal team Caroline Underhill of Thompsons Solicitors and my barrister Claire Darwin and everyone - all the men and women who've supported me and the issue of equal pay. I'm now looking forward to continuing to do my job, to report on stories and not being one."

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: "It was an incredibly brave decision on Samira's part to take forward this case. No-one wants to battle their employer in a public tribunal hearing but the BBC's failure to meaningfully negotiate made legal proceedings inevitable.

"For the BBC, this became a battle over the differences as they saw it between their internal divisional silos of news and entertainment. For the NUJ, this was simply a case of two roles that were commensurate, on two programmes that were supremely comparable, carried out by two high-profile, experienced presenters."

"The NUJ is hugely appreciative of our excellent legal team, Caroline Underhill, equal pay practice lead at Thompsons Solicitors, and Claire Darwin, a barrister specialising in employment and discrimination law at Matrix Chambers. We also thank the judge and panel members for their clear and thorough assessment of this case."

Ms Stanistreet added: "Since the tribunal ended, the NUJ has pressed the BBC to resolve all of our outstanding cases, resulting in numerous positive outcomes, but there is still work to be done. I'd call on the BBC to learn the lessons from this judgment and to work constructively with the NUJ to sort these cases out.

"The joint unions have done a lot of work with the BBC on improving pay structures but there is much more to be done to ensure that genuine equality and transparency on pay becomes the reality for all employees at the BBC.

"This outcome should also be a wake-up call for all employers. Stamping out the scourge of unequal pay at work should be a priority for all organisations - the NUJ will be building on this victory and supporting our members throughout the industry in making pay inequity a thing of the past."

Responding to the decision, the BBC said that Ms Ahmed "is an excellent journalist and presenter, and we regret that this case ever had to go to tribunal".

A statement continued: "We're committed to equality and equal pay. Where we've found equal pay cases in the past we've put them right. However, for us, this case was never about one person, but the way different types of programmes across the media industry attract different levels of pay.

"We have always believed that the pay of Samira and Jeremy Vine was not determined by their gender. Presenters - female as well as male - had always been paid more on Points of View than Newswatch.

"We're sorry the tribunal didn't think the BBC provided enough evidence about specific decisions - we weren't able to call people who made decisions as far back as 2008 and have long since left the BBC.

"In the past, our pay framework was not transparent and fair enough, and we have made significant changes to address that; we're glad this satisfied the tribunal that there was sufficient evidence to explain her pay now.

"We'll need to consider this judgment carefully. We know tribunals are never a pleasant experience for anyone involved. We want to work together with Samira to move on in a positive way."

Labour MP David Lammy tweeted: "Congrats @SamiraAhmedUK. Equal work deserves equal pay."

BBC Radio 4 presenter Aasmah Mir tweeted: "Yes yes yes!

"We knew you were right. Proud to stand next to you again today."

BBC presenter Carrie Gracie tweeted: "@SamiraAhmedUK I could not be more proud of you ... and all the #bbcwomen at your back. 2020 is the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act and I hope your victory gives courage to women everywhere to stand up for the value of their work. As for #BBC bosses, time to stop digging."
Novelist Margaret Atwood was among those reacting to the news of Ms Ahmed's win.

She tweeted: "Congratulations! @SamiraAhmedUK @equalitynow."

A statement from BBC Women to the PA news agency said: "The unanimous judgment in Samira Ahmed's employment tribunal case deserves to be a real game changer, and not just at the BBC.

"Fifty years after the original equal pay legislation, women should not have to continue to find the courage to fight these battles. The BBC should now move to resolve the many outstanding cases which we know still exist and have been put through lengthy internal processes - some lasting years."

Speaking outside the BBC headquarters in London, National Union of Journalists (NUJ) general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: "You couldn't get a more emphatic win, a resounding victory. It's not a victory that is on any kind of legal technicality, it is so clear cut. I would say to those people, whoever they might be, just read what the panel judge and the rest of the panel have decided."

Asked whether they would be seeking the total pay Ms Ahmed missed out on, according to the judgment, she replied: "Absolutely. The schedule of loss is very clear and we are looking forward to that being settled. We don't know yet whether the BBC will exercise its right to appeal. I hope they don't. It would be a monumental waste of licence fee payers' money. But we will be meeting with the BBC next week and hopefully common sense will prevail, this will be resolved, Samira gets her settlement and she can move on."

Ms Stanistreet said the BBC was currently looking at roughly 20 other cases like Ms Ahmed's.

She said: "There are probably around 20 in the pipeline of the actual tribunal system but there are many more that remain unresolved, possibly as many as 70 at the time of the hearing.

"But actually, to be fair, since the hearing I met with the BBC and I pressed them to use this window of opportunity to think, 'Actually we need to put effort into resolving these outstanding cases, not putting ourselves through the self-harm of another tribunal like Samira's' and some of them have already been satisfactorily resolved. But there are still more to sort out."

A Government Equalities Office (GEO) spokeswoman said: "This year marks 50 years since the introduction of the Equal Pay Act 1970.

"Men and women who carry out the same jobs, similar jobs or work of equal value should always be paid the same. Equality is good for individuals, for the economy and for the country."