Sheffield Star chief reporter and former colleague Martin Smith (‘Smith of the Star’) finally caught up with me last week and here’s the double-page spread he produced for my local rag on Thursday, 17 March.
THE truth is out there and Sheffield’s David Clarke knows what it is.
He knows all about those lights in the sky, crop circles, strange shaped clouds and mysterious flying forms.
The Sheffield Hallam journalism lecturer with the alien obsession is the man the Government turns to when UFOs land in the news. And boy have they landed.
Earlier this month the Government released the biggest batch of documents in Ministry Of Defence history – 200 files, with 300 or 400 pages in each – and 43-year-old David is the man who had to interpret them all.
Released by the Government on the National Archives website, the UFO page has had 8.5 million hits – with almost 60 hits per second on the day the files were opened on March 3.
That’s meant a lot of explaining for Dr Clarke, official Government consultant on UFOs.
He has appeared on BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme, BBC Breakfast News, Sky News and on NBC in the US to interpret the great reams of data released under Freedom Of Information requests – many made by himself.
“I’m working as a consultant for this project where thousands of bits of paper on what people have seen in the sky have been released. For 48 hours after it was released my phone never stopped ringing – people all over the world calling from radio and TV stations,” said former Star journalist David.
“From Radio 4 to calls from Japan, Australia, Brazil, Thailand and other places. It’s just phenomenal. This is the seventh lot of UFO-type information and it’s still making big news all over the world, I thought people might have had enough by now.”
So is there any real evidence that aliens are around?
“There are lots of people who think they have seen things in the sky, but they turn out to be ordinary things,” said Dr Clarke.
“There’s massive interest in this kind of thing. Forty to fifty per cent of the population believe in creatures from another world.”
But not David.
“A lot think that the Government are hiding it all from them and they’re disappointed that actually what they think is going on, is not.
“The truth is in these files but the truth is not the truth that people expect.
“People are flawed and make mistakes and they don’t see what they think they’ve seen – but that’s not what they want to hear. The truth is not as exciting as people would hope, but it’s no less fascinating to me.”
But surely if he was part of a Government cover-up of alien encounters he would say that, wouldn’t he?
“A lot of people think ‘the Governments’ are keeping it from us, like the Roswell [incident] (the alleged recovery of an extra-terrestrial spacecraft, including alien pilots, from an object that crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947),” said David.
“It uses the same premise as other conspiracy theories. I can only prove things to my own satisfaction and I have proved that the theory of it all being a cover-up is a load of rubbish.
“If there was any glimmer of a conspiracy of any kind I would publish it – it’s what I’ve been looking for all my working life. As a journalist if there was any truth in those stories then I would tell people.
“Since I first came into journalism I have always felt that the biggest story ever would be to prove that aliens have landed and I still think that’s the one to crack.
“Prior to the Freedom of Information Act no-one had the freedom to look at Government documents until they were over 30 years old.
“But just because lots of people believe in something it does not make it real.
“I have been through 11,000 to 12,000 accounts people have sent in and I would say that not one of them proves that we have been visited by anything.
“It is disappointing and if I wanted to make money as a journalist I should be saying the opposite, but I can’t say that.
“The conspiracy believers say that I’m working for the Government and that I’m part of the conspiracy. But they are like religious fanatics and will believe what they want no matter what I tell them.
“I was doing an interview with American TV station NBC and the woman kept asking me if I believed.
“Nine out of 10 interviewers ask me if I believe in aliens?
“I say: ‘What has it to do with me? Why does it matter what I believe?’ I know why they ask but I find it annoying. I can only tell them what I’ve read.”