The End of the UFO Files

The tenth and final collection of British UFO files have been released by The National Archives.

Britain's UFO Files - closed for good [credit:]

Britain’s UFO Files – closed for good [credit:]

From 2008 more than four million visitors from 160 countries have visited the project website to download files that would normally have been hidden away for 30 years.

And since I became spokesman and consultant for The National Archives UFO project it has been estimated that news about the files has reached a worldwide audience of 25 million people.

From June 2013 virtually all the surviving UFO files held by the British Ministry of Defence are in the public domain – in total 209 files and approximately 52,000 pages have been opened.

You can read my visitor’s guide to the highlights of the 10th tranche here and my guest blog on the project website here.  The TNA UFO page also contains my background briefing and a video-cast that provides a summary of the contents.

My book The UFO Files (now in 2nd edition) provides a comprehensive history of the MoD’s involvement in the UFO controversy, stretching back to the phantom airship scares of the early 20th century. It  can be ordered here.

The 10th tranche of papers cover the period from 2007 until November 2009 when the MoD closed down its UFO desk and UFO hotline.

Stories about those who ran ‘Britain’s X-Files’ were loved by the tabloids but resented by defence officials, some of whom appeared to believe their involvement in the subject was a waste of scarce resources and an invitation for sensational headlines.

But the arrival of the Freedom of Information Act in 2005 increased the pressure for full disclosure of their files and the decision to transfer their archive to The National Archives, made in 2007, was the first step towards ‘making UFOs history’ in Britain.

Signing off its closure, Gordon Brown’s government were told that in nearly 60 years not a single ‘sighting’ had ‘revealed anything to suggest an extra-terrestrial presence or military threat to the UK’, even when reported by ‘more reliable sources’ such as police or pilots.

Ministers were told the very existence of a ‘UFO desk’ and a ‘UFO Hotline’ encouraged people to report experiences that were of ‘no defence value’.

With every department of government under pressure to slash spending, the closure of Britain’s X-Files was inevitable.

And ironically, it seems the enduring public obsession with UFOs gave MoD the excuse they needed to draw an end to their 60 year involvement in what had become a huge public relations headache.

The newly-released files reveal how sighting reports had trebled, from 208 in 2008 to 643 in 2009, overwhelming the lone desk officer responsible for UFOs. Was this craze for seeing flying saucers the result of an ‘alien invasion’ as the tabloids suggested?

Or was it because public awareness of UFOs and ET life had risen as a result of the mass publicity surrounding the release of the files themselves?

And there was another factor to take into account. As the accounts recorded in the files make clear, the vast majority of the sightings reported in 2008-9 described groups of floating orange globes in the night sky.

Floating Sky Lanterns were the source of many 'sightings' recorded in the MoD's files from 2003 (credit:]

Floating Sky Lanterns were the source of many ‘sightings’ recorded in the MoD’s files from 2003 (credit:]

The fact that some of these ‘sightings’ were reported by helicopter pilots, soldiers and police officers underlines how even so-called ‘credible witnesses’ can be mistaken about things they have seen in the sky.

During the silly seasons of 2008-9 The Sun newspaper in particular worked up the popular desire for UFO yarns to dizzy heights.

First in order of silliness was the January 2009 Sun headline that claimed a UFO had collided with a wind-turbine on the Lincolnshire Wolds, tearing off one of the blades. Examination by Ecotricity later revealed nothing more exciting than metal fatigue as the cause of the damage.

The wind-turbine yarn followed a page one splash in June 2008 that revealed how a soldier from the 1st Royal Irish Regiment captured an ‘alien fleet’ on his mobile phone as they floated over his barracks in Shropshire.

The Sun's pg 1 splash 25 June 2008 on UFO sightings at Tern Hill barracks, Shropshire

The Sun’s pg 1 splash 25 June 2008 on UFO sightings at Tern Hill barracks, Shropshire

The MoD files reveal the Army’s press office went ballistic when they saw his footage of 13 flying objects splashed across page one of the best-selling tabloid.  The soldier was threatened with disciplinary action by his superiors who feared that ‘…it will be revealed as a fake and the soldiers/battalion will look stupid’.

And sure enough, soon after The Sun splash, it emerged that guests attending a wedding party at a hotel near the soldier’s barracks had released Chinese lanterns the same night the ‘alien invasion fleet’ chose to appear.

The British Army’s press office said the leak was made worse by the fact the paper reported on the latest death in Afghanistan as a small sidebar alongside the UFO story; ‘…the comment from broadcasters was along the lines of “the services cannot fight two wars but it seems there are soldiers who have time to go UFO spotting.”’

In this case the military hoped the story would ‘die quickly’. It’s clear that by closing the UFO desk and transferring their files to the archives, the MoD are hoping to draw a line under their involvement in this subject and follow the lead taken by the US Air Force which closed its UFO investigations in 1969.

UFOs really are now history, as far as the British authorities are concerned.

For a more detailed summary of the contents of this tranche of files read my National Archives UFOs #10 page here.

All 25 files can be downloaded free of charge for one month from The National Archives UFO page here.

To mark the end of the UFO file release programme an iPhone/iPad app called UFO Files UK has been launched by a company called Black Plaques working with The National Archives. This innovative app allows users to explore data from 5,ooo sighting reports from across the British Isles, dating back 25 years, that have been harvested from the MoD’s UFO files.

The app is available to purchase from the iTunes store from Friday 21.

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9 Responses to The End of the UFO Files

  1. gari says:

    My only real surprise is that it took the UK so long to follow the US’s lead, no one takes defence more seriously than them, and back in the day money was no object, if there genuinely were any defence significance the Americans wouldn’t have closed their files, even if you take away defence implications, IF UFOs were alien piloted craft, then you can bet they’d still be investigating.

    Of course the conspiracy fringe will say that this is all a cover up and disguising the real work that is going on behind the scenes.

    Fact is, the oft quoted few percent that can’t be explained, are just that, could be unexplained natural phenomena or brain farts, I guess that separating wheat from chaff, to no real end of any significance, really was throwing money away.

    Purveyors of the extraterrestrial hypothesis for alien piloted craft would have it that these guys are visiting Earth daily, yet with 7 billion people on Earth and probably a billion of them with access to some form of camera within a few minutes, all we get are fuzzy blobs and Chinese lanterns…and certainly no physical evidence.

    I believed when I was a young naive boy, but as I grew up I required evidence, not just anecdote, and that’s all the believers have got.

  2. Southern Ross says:


    Yes, it’s so easy to be dismissive because no one can offer you definitive proof. I was firmly in the skeptics camp too until a close range, 90 second sighting (150m) in broad daylight. That changed everything. Of course now I no longer believe the accepted paradigm proffered by those self-appointed guardians of a very blinkered view of the depth of existence.

    • gari says:

      @ Southern Ross,

      Fact is, Southern Ross, it was a personally experienced anecdote, I too have seen, heard and felt things over the years, and I do not immediately put down the ‘unexplained’ to the so-called paranormal happenings. Unexplained just means that, for now, I do not have the life experience or skills to understand what occurred. OK, maybe there are aliens, maybe psychics can read the future etc but, so far, we have no proof or evidence beyond personal anecdotes, and dodgy photos etc

      I grew up believing in alien piloted UFOs, I read everything I could on the subject, I still look at some of the old photos in books and journals with nostalgia; I’d sit there looking at photos and wonder what the pilot looked like; what language he spoke; did he sit or stand; what did he eat; could he see the guy taking the photo etc

      I was an avid astronomer when young too, and saw things in the sky, mostly shooting stars, I can remember once being puzzled by something that happened to Sirius while I observed it. I’ve seen things in the sky, from ‘orbs’ to something that looked like a tear in the sky, as if someone had ripped open the blue curtain of atmosphere and revealed a dark, foreboding shape. I can remember once genuinely believing that I was being followed at night by an object while on a motorcycle, in the wee early hours. I’ve seen things in the sky, on the ground, over the years, but as I grew up and got knowledgeable about science, what we knew and didn’t know; as I started to think for myself, rather than read crap by Adamski or whomever and believe it. I started to realise that I am not a reliable witness, no one is, we make mistakes, we have psychotic episodes, we have pareidolia, people also lie and hoax.

      I’d say it was the lying and hoaxing that kicked me into thinking more critically about things, I started thinking that if something unexplained happened, and it could be explained by lying, hoaxing or some psychological episode, then THAT is a more likely explanation until proven otherwise.

      I started welcoming hoaxers, rather than criticising them, because to me, hoaxers, and there are good ones, prove how gullible people really are, maybe they even perform a great service, in my opinion. I used to belong to Abovetopsecret but left when I realized that all the crazies, paranoid and marijuana abusers visited the site. I saw things there like an obvious seagull picture {the owner wanted 30,000 bucks Canadian for the original} , but the believers still believed, cleverer people than I walked them through the whole process, still they believed their eyes, even basic things like perspective was misunderstood by them.

      Too much hoaxing isn’t good, I suppose, but IF alien piloted UFOs were real, then there’d be no reason for anyone to hoax the pictures would there? We’d no for a fact that aliens were piloting some UFOs and we have been contacted.

      In your example, Ross, for me, what you saw – I think I know to what you refer – was ‘something’, if you didn’t see it piloting a UFO, it certainly wasn’t evidence of a UFO’s alien pilot, was it?

      You have your right to your belief, Ross, but facts are facts, and the facts are, so far, that aliens are not piloting UFOs, we don’t even know if UFOs are just a natural phenomenon or some kind of ‘artificial’ machine from a foreign power.

      My personal ‘belief’ is that the US let the whole UFO thing run its course because it was an excellent cover for all the amazing different types of aircraft they were developing at the time, I’m sure they investigated diligently enough, with a concern as to whether or not they posed a threat, whatever they are.

      I keep hearing about how ‘true’ alien visitation is, I had a great friend in the US who was convinced that aliens were real, and were a threat. The reason? His father was an admiral and every time the son brought up the subject of UFOs, his father went quiet, when usually you couldn’t stop his dad talking about his service life. I said “Maybe he has nothing to say, because he has nothing to say, no exposure or knowledge…” but no, his dad was quiet because it was true.

      I would love to go back in time to that 12 to 13 year-old gari, and tell him not to waste too much time on UFOs, I’d rather had been disappointed early in life and get over it, than spend decades getting more and more pissed off by the evidence, well, the lack of it.

      All that waffle said, I do still find cases like Kinross and Shag Harbor interesting…but neither of them would prove alien piloted UFOs exist, imo.

      I guess I am the reverse to you, I went from believer to skeptic, and aren’t the ‘converted’ even more evangelical about a cause or belief? lol

      • OzzieThinker says:


        You really are desperate. Your latest innuendo packed reply is almost as long as the article. However your statement “we have no proof or evidence beyond personal anecdotes, and dodgy photos etc” is incorrect.

        I have archived several 1000’s photos and 100’s of moving pictures, including a number from ex-government archives. If these are unreliable then so is all the “Pathe” footage accounting the second world war. There is hard evidence in considerable quantity, but rarely do qualified scientist make anything more than arbitrary comment. They rely on “armchair experts” like “Gari”.

        Your rambling commentary struggles with reference sources and you throw up sizeable $ amounts and slanderous accusation while giving no factual credits. There are conmen and ladies everywhere; a good number in government and in positions of “public” leadership. Those who con always have motive. What is your “motive” Gari?

        Personally, my scepticism stretches to the usefulness of anything released from the national archive, for instance. Invariably my experience has been any western government “legitimate source” of “revelation” is committed to defraud the integrity of the intellectuals and affirm morons like yourself. I don’t use the word moron as an insult, but as a pragmatic statement of what you are. You are a credit to morons because your testament affirms what it is to be a moron.

        You are what they want, Gari, so do your bit for “King and country” just like a good little Indian. I wonder if the London Councillor Simon Parkes will be “asked” to retract some of his writings and join your ranks.

      • gari says:

        You are no skeptic, don’t try and fool yourself or bullcrap others.

        Funny, you dismissed my accurate “rebuttal” (lol) of your fantasy by saying I produced no references, while referencing NONE of your own!! lol

        Ozzie”Thinker”, you could have received a billion ambiguous and dodgy videos and photos, the level of evidence is the same, NONE, if they are to the usual standard – Chinese lanterns, birds, sun-flares etc.

        Strange how with all these videos and photos you claim to have received no one else in the real world knows anything about them? If there were ONE incontestable unambiguous photo in the whole world it would be front page news, it would be all over the Internet in 10 minutes, never happened, and probably never will.

        I see from the rest of your rambling tirade that you are a conspiracy nut, no surprise there, huh?

        Your use of the word “moron” is not an insult because:

        1) the target of an insult has to respect or fear the originator of the ‘insult’. I don’t, I find you amusing like all the other psychotic believers, if you knew how much you make me laugh with each comment you make.

        2) a moron is about 85 IQ points up from where you are lol

        I think the real ‘gem’ in your polemic was the comparison with “Pathe” lol That is exactly my point, WWII and other such world events don’t rely on just a few dodgy frames of footage. I can see burnt out and bombed buildings to this day, no one from that period denies the war happened, you are comparing an event that effected and affected most of the “civilized” world to various extents, the existence of such an event backed by the whole world population -that survived and experienced it- and much physical and written contextual evidence.

        In short, we do not need Pathe news-reel to demonstrate there was a war, but dodgy photos is the best you got yo support your nonsense.

        I started as a believer when young, as I said above, but now I am not, and to be honest, gullible folks like your are why the 99% of the world (yeah I know, logical fallacy – appeal to popularity) are not interested and laugh each time some one says they have been abducted and probed, or their eyes roll when we look at more Chinese lanterns or seagulls from another planet.

        I go with the evidence, and so far, in an age when a UFO landing or alien encounter could be transmitted to over a billion people in two minutes, that evidence suggests no aliens at all, let alone visiting Earth.

        (BTW moron is a Welsh word for carrot, if we are talking Welsh vegetables here, I suggest you are a “bresych” :-))

    • OzzieThinker says:

      @Southern Ross

      I am sorry for being pedantic, but what you say also isn’t true. There is overwhelming evidence supporting both supposed extra-terrestrials and IDENTIFIED alien spacecraft. Very little has been embraced by the mainstream scientific community as a sensation. Reports of the progression of Lloyd Pye’s starchild skull, which now has been proven without-a-shadow-of-a-doubt to be unhuman are absent (short of Pye’s limited voice). What “unhuman” is the 64 dollar question and the final stages of the tedious evaluation of the nucleic DNA are anticipated to verify a revolutionary new life form. Science is unlikely to comment – EVER.

      Then we have Greer’s Ata “deformed human foetus” which was poorly reported by the Daily Mail eagerly protecting the Illuminati way-things-are. 91% human mitochondrial DNA does not make a human, nor does a 6-7 year old creature make for a good science argument. The Daily Mail felt a rough appraisal of informed science opinion was enough for their uninformed audience.

      Finally there is the enormous quantity of video evidence, including dozens of “small greys” showing similar behaviours, emitting similar sounds but not identical and in different locations at different times. That, to me, is definitive proof and discussions to the contrary would be based around an absence of basis. What is “proof”, after all?

      • gari says:

        @OzzieThinker (again)

        I apologize for butting in on your comment to Ross, but I think you confused, if Ross is who I think he is, then he was a skeptic now – mostly – converted.

        As for your post;

        The so-called “Star-Child Skull”, is not an alien skull nor a hybrid, plenty of non-woo words out there about this, the mtDNA/DNA that UFO folks get excited about means nothing, you are comparing a degraded sample with a limited database, you’ll not get a 100% match, and who know what could have corrupted the sample prior to and at sampling/examination? Thing is, if the sample proved conclusively that it were human, you’d all be saying ‘cover-up’ or contaminated DNA. The latter works both ways.

        The foetus; again the “91%” you mention would be a 91% match of the sample used as comparison, if the database has say mostly Caucasians and the sample is early Mongoloid, that’s at least 30,000 years of genetic diversity from the. Eurasians split. If we take a sample from certain people in the horn of Africa, they will have a mtDNA/DNA profile closer to a true Homo Sapien, if you are Eurasian – Caucasian, Indoa-Astraloid or Asian, you have between 2 to 4% Neanderthal genetic material. If you are a descendant of sub-Saharan “Negroids”, then you don’t have Neanderthal in you but you do have genetic material from an even older relic extinct human species, probably Homo Heidelbergensis, again studies show this to be around 2%. So just the difference between a Eurasian and a sub-Saharan African is around 4%, and chimpanzees are supposed to share something like 94 to 96% of our genetic material.

        None of these examples are commented on by the mainstream because they are just ordinary things. If any of these alleged aliens showed any genetic material that could not have come form this planet, then all bets would be off.

        As for all this evidence for the “small greys” where is it? All I have ever seen are grainy indistinct footage that could be anything. Again, you folks not only say these creatures exist, but they are regular visitors, yet all you can come up with is anecdote and grainy video.

        If any of the ‘evidence’ was real and conclusive there would be no stopping science, one thing scientists like is another mystery to investigate. They’re not investigation this stuff because there is nothing to investigate, not because of denial or conspiracy.

  3. OzzieThinker says:

    If there was acute evidence of “mindless ignorance” it would be encapsulated by your comment, Gari. No doubt you are one not swayed by the 100 or more INDEPENDENT WITNESSES of the January, 1996 Varghina “extra-terrestrials” (certainly nothing “known” by terrestrial descriptive standards). I sincerely believe that if you experienced one of those monstrous blackish-purple creatures gnawing at your leg your denial would put it down to your “imagination”. When your leg no longer existed you would have to make the embarrassing false claim you “never had one”. Sadly that would not have saved you because everyone who came into physical contact with the Varghina Devils died within a few short weeks of an “unknown virus”.

    I would image imagine any informed and discerning reader would find your comment ill-considered. I know that any ACTUAL experiencer would find what you have to say the highest INSULT.

    • gari says:

      @ OzzieThinker

      My original reply seems to have not been published, so I’ll be short.

      Varghina, is bunk, no one has verified any of the nonsense you have stated to any degree that would be accepted as ‘fact’ by the scientific community or free-thinking skeptics.

      I’m pretty sure that “any ACTUAL experiencer” would find what I said insulting, an appeal to the emotions of someone else doesn’t make what I said wrong, most psychotics find it insulting when people challenge their belief that unicorns exist or that the CIA really aren’t interested in bugging the phone line of some sad loner in his basement or that the Illuminati aren’t listening to every word you say down the pub.

      All you have, like most of the ‘fantasy’ involved with alien piloted UFOs are mostly misunderstood natural and psychological processes. I suffer with sleep paralysis, when was young and ignorant it scared the excrement out of me, now I know what it is and can see that the reports I have read about everything from night-time Demonic possession to alleged abductions are just brain farts.

      Our mind creates our reality, and our mind is not perfect, it is a pattern matching machine that uses your life experiences and beliefs to explain the wider world, it likes order, it mostly makes some kind of sense out of almost anything.

      With 7 billion folks on the planet and over a billion cameras and sound recorders, all we are still getting are anecdotes from people and photos of Chinese lanterns.

      So far, NO evidence beyond the ramblings of ‘experiencers’ exists to prove this phenomena, NOTHING!!!

      Even if I saw one, I’d want better evidence than just my observations, humans are very poor eye-witnesses, that’s why courts and science tend to want more than just eye-witness testimony.

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