The Ministry of Defence recently announced plans to publish the ‘final’ cache of files relating to the work of its shuttered UFO investigation unit.
Now the man who once headed up the MoD’s UFO desk has spoken out to reveal the contents of these ‘British X-Files’.
Nick Pope, a former defence chief who is now a global authority on ‘unexplained aerial phenomena’, told Metro the dossier due to be published this year is actually the third ‘final’ cache that’s been made public.
He said: ‘While I welcome the news of this upcoming file release, the whole thing is in danger of becoming a Whitehall farce.
‘That’s because this is the third time that the MoD has talked in terms of the release of a “final batch” of files.
‘The first time was in June 2013, when a project to declassify and release the entire archive of UFO files was – supposedly – completed. It had taken five years, involved 209 files and around 60,000 pages of documentation.
‘Then, embarrassingly, a further 18 files were located, which had supposedly been missed the first time around. The last of these were released in April 2019.
‘Each time the MoD claimed it had released all the files, conspiracy theorists in the UFO community said they didn’t believe it, suspecting there were more files – and they were right. One wonders how many more “final releases” there will be!’
Pope went on to slam the secrecy and bureaucracy surrounding the files, which has helped to fuel wild conspiracy theories about the contents.
‘I’m irritated by all this because I have a personal stake in it,’ he added.
‘I came out of retirement to help promote the file release project – not least because I’d written many of the documents being released, so could give the media and the public an insider’s perspective on them.
‘At the time, I felt this was a good news story about our commitment to open government and freedom of information. Sadly, things went off track.
‘Delay crept in and the original plan that the entire project would be completed in around 3 years soon fell by the wayside. Furthermore, the practice of charging a small fee for access to the files was understandably unpopular.
‘The public argued that they’d already paid for these files, by virtue of government business being funded through taxation. Charging for the files was seen as “double-dipping”.
‘Then came complaints that in the final stages of the release project, some of the more controversial UFO files sent to The National Archives weren’t being digitized, and thus couldn’t be accessed online. Finally, there’s the embarrassment over the multiple “last ever files” claims.
‘It’s a typical government story of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.’
Unfortunately, the latest cache of X-Files are unlikely to finally solve the mystery of UFOs
‘As to what’s in these soon-to-be-released files, it’s essentially public correspondence,’ Pope added.
‘This may include sighting reports from people who weren’t aware that the MoD axed its UFO project at the end of 2009. It may also include Freedom of Information Act requests sent to the MoD, along with the MoD responses.
‘The files will be interesting, of course, but people shouldn’t expect a smoking gun – sadly, there isn’t one.’
The release of the latest documents has done little to quell suspicions about what’s really going on in the corridors of power – particularly as previous publications have also been described as ‘final’.
‘The revelation that the MoD has additional UFO files, generated after they supposedly terminated their UFO project, will only fuel theories that investigations never really stopped, despite what Parliament, the media and the public have been told,’ Pope added.
‘To confirm this suspicion, I’m aware from a well-placed source that investigation of sightings from pilots continues, handled as Airprox [Air Proximity] events, with everyone bending over backwards to avoid using the term “UFO”, which would create a Freedom of Information Act liability.’
Pope went on to raise several rumours which are likely to remain unconfirmed at this stage.
UFO sightings are now being taken seriously across the world following revelations about a secret project in the US called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). This project investigated sightings such as the one in the video below, which was recorded by US Navy pilots.
Pope went on: ‘There are also rumours that the US government took over the MoD’s UFO project. While I can’t comment on these allegations, there are two intriguing clues.
‘Firstly, in describing UFO sightings in recent years, the US Navy has used the phrase ‘UAP’ [Unidentified Aerial Phenomena]. This was a phrase we used in the MoD, in internal policy discussions in the Nineties.
‘A US Navy spokesperson stated that UAP “is a term we borrowed from the UK”.
‘Secondly, it’s clear that several people involved with the Pentagon’s UFO project or AATIP have a good knowledge of British UFO cases such as the Rendlesham Forest incident, as well as Project Condign – an intelligence assessment of the UFO phenomenon that I helped set up in the Nineties.
‘The revelation concerning the existence of these new UFO files is fascinating, but the bizarre circumstances of this upcoming release will only strengthen people’s suspicion that the government knows more about this subject than it’s letting on.
‘And on a personal basis, long after I thought my job was done, I find myself on the receiving end of new questions about all this. As someone once said: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”‘
The RAF took the decision to wind up its UFO unit in 2009, after concluding that in more than 50 years, no received report had ever disclosed any evidence of a potential threat.
Previously, records from the unit were given to the National Archives, often initially classified before being released after a specific number of years.
But the most recent reports received by the RAF will be placed online following a Freedom of Information Act request.
Members of the public reporting alleged UFO sightings are now directed to their local police force.
A spokesman for the RAF said ‘it had been assessed that it would be better to publish these records, rather than continue sending documents to the National Archives, and so they are looking to put them on to a dedicated gov.uk web page’.