The New Zealand TV presenter who called Susan Boyle "retarded" has been forced to issue a groveling apology.

Paul Henry sparked a storm of controversy in November after he laughed while reading a magazine article which said the Scottish singing star was starved of oxygen at birth and suffered a mild intellectual disability.

"Here's the really interesting revelation — she is in fact retarded," he said. "And if you look at her carefully, you can make it out."

Speaking this week, Henry said : "It upsets me greatly that anyone would imagine I had intended to cause offense or hurt over this or any issue.

"I am sorry that some people have taken what I said in a way that I never intended," he added in a statement.

His tasteless comments provoked a storm of complaints to New Zealand's Human Rights Commission.

TV New Zealand's head of news and current affairs, Anthony Flannery, said Henry had overstepped the mark and "we apologize to those who were hurt and distressed by it."

However, he defended the presenter, saying there was a place for his "boundary-pushing style and sense of humor in broadcasting."

Henry was hauled over the coals before for comments he made about a Greenpeace spokeswoman having facial hair.