The truth about the British Government’s interest in UFOs has been released by The National Archives.
In what I believe to be the most important revelation so far in the British disclosure programme, the MoD’s Defence Intelligence Staff admit that “lack of funds and higher priorities” had prevented any detailed study of the thousands of reports they had received since the end of the Second World War.
The frank admission is contained in a formerly secret memo dated July 1995 and written by the UFO desk officer at DI55, the branch of the DIS responsible for the assessment of UFO reports for defence threat. The officer – a RAF Wing Commander - concludes the lid had already been blown on secrecy surrounding defence intelligence interest in UFOs by a series of media revelations. But he said the public perception of DI55 as “defenders of the Earth from the alien menace” was “light years from the truth”. And he told his opposite number on the MoD’s public UFO desk that few people would believe the “embarrassing truth…that lack of funds and higher priorities had prevented a proper study of UFO sightings.”
Another formerly secret document produced by the head of Sec(AS), the MoD’s UFO desk, in the same year underlines the MoD’s lack of interest in UFOs. The official admits that no research had ever been done on UFOs either by DI55 “or anyone else” and adds:
“We don’t do research into the phenomena; we haven’t done any; we only would if there were some good reason for doing so – ie. evidence of a threat.”
These embarrassing revelations led MoD to approve a DI55 plan for a retired intelligence officer to produce a report on “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” (code-named Condign) that was based upon a computerised study of UFO data. Work on the study began in 1996 and a copy of this report was released under FOIA ten years later.
The DI55 smoking gun is just one of 8,600 pages of material within 34 MoD UFO files opened on Thursday 11 August by Britain’s National Archives. Read my detailed summary of the contents here. You can listen to my interview with Sanchia Berg on BBC Radio 4 Today programme here and read a bylined feature here.
This is the eighth and possibly penultimate release of files in a rolling programme that began in 2008. Visitors to the UFO pages can download the files free of charge for the first month. By Friday 12 August the site had received more than half a million visitors and 125,000 downloads.
Other highlights include details of MoD’s continuing interest in photographs depicting “unidentified aerial phenomena”. The files include:
- Image analysis experts working for British intelligence were asked to examine a transparency that clearly shows an “elliptical object” in the sky above Retford in Nottinghamshire – click here for details (DEFE 24/2060/1)
- The remarkable first-hand testimony of retired RAF Fighter Controller Freddie Wimbledon on the role he played in the famous 1956 UFO incident at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk. (DEFE 24/2031/1).
- The truth about a bogus story published by two tabloid newspapers in 1998 that claimed the early warning station, RAF Fylingdales, had tracked a UFO “as big as a battleship” moving at fantastic speeds (DEFE 24/2047/1).
- Papers on the unexplained sighting of two cigar-shaped UFOs by pilot Ray Bowyer and passengers on a Trislander aircraft near Alderney, in the Channel Islands, in April 2007 (DEFE 24/2081/1)
- More than 70 pages of censored documents containing the MoD’s internal discussions surrounding the clearance of Nick Pope’s book Open Skies Closed Minds, published in 1996 (DEFE 24/2091/1).
All 34 files can be downloaded from The National Archives UFO page, along with a podcast I have prepared with Pennine Productions.
The release was covered extensively by print and broadcast media. Here are just a few of examples of the coverage on 11/12 August:
New York Times: ‘The Truth is Out There: UK X-Files Put Online’
British Forces News Worldwide (Top Story): ‘Secret MoD files containing UFO sightings released’ [link to broadcast footage]
BBC News: ‘UFO Sightings were not investigated’ [link to broadcast footage]
BBC News Online: ‘Ministry of Defence files on UFO sightings released’.
Metro: ‘UFO sightings of Mork and Mindy over East Dulwich detailed by MoD’
Daily Mail online: “Mork and Mindy came to visit.’
Daily Mirror: “UFO sightings revealed”
Daily Star: ‘Aliens spotted by the sober at Glastonbury’
Daily Telegraph: ‘UFO files’
Copyright David Clarke 2011