Singer and songwriter Phil Coulter has explained why he turned down Margaret Thatcher's offer of an Order of the British Empire, which puts him in the exalted company of David Bowie and John Cleese, who also rejected British honours.

Speaking on Friday night’s Late Late Show, 77-year-old Derry man Coulter said, "I got a letter from 10 Downing Street from the office of Maggie Thatcher saying that she was of the mind to recommend to her majesty that I was to be given an OBE and she would like confirmation that I would accept it.

"There was one part of my ego that was flattered to have been offered an honour bur deep down in my heart’s core I thought this doesn’t sit comfortably with me given my background, given the fact that back then Maggie Thatcher would not have been my favourite politician, given the way she had reacted through the hunger strikes, the way she had treated the miners during the miners' strike . . .

"There was one part of my ego that was flattered to have been offered an honour."

"I thought for me to accept an honour from this woman would somehow be tantamount to me saying she’s ok by me, I’m on her team and I wasn’t. So I thought, you know what? My ego is in good enough shape so I don’t need this OBE so I apologised and declined."

Coulter has received five Ivor Novello Awards in the course of his long career and among his many hits, he wrote the UK’s winning Eurovison entry Puppet on a String in 1967,