Saturday, December 09, 2006

Freedom of Information: Top Secrets for Public Inspection

British FOIA Logo
The Independent

Introduced two years ago, the Freedom of Information Act has forced the British Government to give up its darkest secrets and present many of its most sensitive documents for public inspection. Robert Verhaik opens the files
STATUS: Alien visit?
DATE: July, 1977

The National Archives Office in Kew, formerly known as the Public Records Office, holds the largest database of secrets in the world. Millions of documents in electronic and hard copy have been painstakingly filed under classified headings ranging from "restricted viewing" to "top secret".

For an investigative journalist there can be no more exciting a phrase than the words that flashed across the top of my documents: "Classified - not for release until 2010". The black ink stamp of secrecy meant that mine was the first unrestricted eye to see these documents for 30 years.

Since the 1950s, when the first reports of UFOs reached this country from America, the men from the ministry had maintained a contemptuous silence about the possibility of alien visitors. So it is still surprising to me, even today, that there exists at the heart of the Ministry of Defence, working in a committee room supported by secretarial staff, a special unit whose sole purpose is to investigate and collate reports of UFOs. These papers are Britain's very own X-Files.

Many of the documents contained fanciful reports from old ladies, children or UFO enthusiasts - and, on the whole, they do not make very convincing reading. But after a great deal of digging I finally came across a slightly thicker file, with much more MoD correspondence than any of the others. This time the observers were not children, confused old ladies or UFO nuts but an RAF pilot and two NCOs based at RAF Boulmer in Northumberland.

In July 1977, Flt Lt A M Wood reported "bright objects hanging over the sea", the closest of which was "luminous, round and four to five times larger than a Whirlwind helicopter".

The RAF personnel estimated that UFOs were three miles out to sea at a height of about 5,000ft. The officer's central report is carefully backed-up by the NCOs. With great attention to detail, he writes: "The objects separated. Then one went west of the other, as it manoeuvered it changed shape to become body-shaped with projections like arms and legs."

All three men who were positioned at the picket post at the RAF station were able to observe the strange objects for an hour and 40 minutes. At the same time a radar station detected the objects in exactly the same position as the men had observed them.

The accompanying MoD report describes Flt Lt Wood as "reliable and sober ". It adds: "Two contacts were noted on radar, both T84 and T85, at RAF Boulmer. They were also seen on the Staxton Wold radar picture which is relayed to West Drayton ... On seeing the objects on radar the duty controller checked with the SRO at RAF West Drayton as to whether he could see the objects on radar supplied from RAF Staxton Wold." This account was deemed so sensitive to the national interest that the MoD had delayed its release for an extra three years. It was the most credible evidence to emerge from Britain of extraterrestrial life visiting our world. Could this really have been Britain's very own Roswell experience?

More . . .

See Also: MoD Probes UFO Sightings


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