BBC journalist has issued an apology to Gary Lineker after he suggested the football pundit should quit the broadcaster if he can't remain impartial.

Neil Henderson said he should have shown “more consideration to a BBC colleague” after he attacked the former footballer for his tweet criticising politicians over sewage in English waters.

It comes a week after the reporter took issue with Lineker’s tweet, in which he said: “As a politician how could you ever, under any circumstances, bring yourself to vote for pumping sewage into our seas? Unfathomable!”

Replying to the tweet, Henderson asked Lineker if he had a different contract from him that meant he could tweet personal opinions.

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Lineker said: “I presume you’re in news and current affairs? If so, of course.”

Henderson responded: “Does not our duty of impartiality apply across the BBC?”

Lineker replied: “Only in news and current affairs. Surely you know this?”

The National:

At that point, Henderson said to Lineker: “The BBC lives or dies by its impartiality. If you can’t abide it, get off it.”

The journalist deleted the tweets shortly after posting them, but has now apologised to Lineker over the row.

He tweeted: “I'd like to apologise for earlier tweets (now deleted) responding to Gary Lineker.

“I should have shown more consideration to a BBC colleague - as per the BBC’s social media guidelines.”

At the time, Lineker said it was a “very odd attack” adding that he is a freelance worker.

In September 2020, the BBC’s newly appointed director-general, Tim Davie, made clear that he was prepared to sack presenters who are deemed to breach impartiality rules on social media.

In social media guidance issued the following month, the BBC said employees should follow four key rules in their output.

They were told:

• Not to bring the BBC "into disrepute"

• To maintain impartiality if required: Meaning staff should not "express a personal opinion on matters of public policy, politics or 'controversial subjects'"

• Not to criticise their colleagues in public

• To respect the privacy of the workplace and the confidentiality of internal announcements