Love and Light.
MoD's alien files are out of this world
By Cathy Newman and Jean Eaglesham
Published: February 3 2005 02:00 | Last updated: February 3 2005 02:00
The X-Files have been opened: in a victory for ufo-logists everywhere, the man from the ministry not only admits he has an open mind about the existence of extra-terrestrial lifeforms but also keeps a careful tally of UFO sightings.
Following a request under the Freedom of Information Act by the Financial Times, the Ministry of Defence has revealed it remains "totally open-minded" about the possibility that life exists beyond Earth.
The MoD has released a detailed log of reported unidentified flying object sightings. "Strange lights were seen in the sky" in Whitstable, Kent, just over two weeks ago - the same night a member of the public reported a "flying saucer" over Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire and a "sighting" at Chatteris, Cambridgeshire.
More exotic alien encoun-ters were recorded last year. "A square red object, pinkish at the front" was spotted in Strathclyde, Ayr, on January 2; a "chewy mint shaped" object was seen in the night sky above Nelson, Lancashire, in May; and a "large black object" was identified in Rhyl, Clwyd, in February.
A diligent ufologist from Surrey gave a detailed eye-witness account in May, noting that "grooves and windows could be seen and no room for humans to fit within it". The same month "a bright, pulsing, spider- looking object" appeared at King's Lynn, Norfolk, and the MoD was even contacted by someone from Sri Lanka in March puzzled by an orange "ring doughnut".
A letter from the MoD's directorate of air staff explains that it examines all UFO sightings it receives "solely to establish whether what was seen might have some defence significance". It adds: "Only a handful of reports in recent years have warranted further investigation and none revealed any evidence of a threat."
But, in an aside that will hearten conspiracy theorists, the letter stresses that the MoD "remains totally open-minded" as to "the question of the existence or otherwise of extra-terrestrial lifeforms".
This approach may explain why the MoD has not always confined its work on extraterrestrials to recording sightings. In 1950, a working party set up by the MoD "to investigate the flying saucer phenomenon" reported to the joint technical intelligence committee.
The MoD letter does not detail verbatim the spy chiefs' reaction to this report on alien life forms. But they presumably decided the spooks would be better employed in the cold war - the letter states that the intelligence committee decided the working party should be dissolved.
The government also refused to back a 1978 attempt by the Grenadian delegation to the United Nations to establish an international working group to evaluate UFO reports, the letter states. "The British delegation did not think that such an agency was appropriate to the function of the UN." The MoD admitted the documents are a fraction of the thousands of records of alleged alien visits.
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