Her Majesty’s Government may have concluded in 1979 that “it has never been approached by people from outer space” but the current Pope is entertaining the idea of aliens.
That was the bizarre clash of opinions that emerged this morning as thousands of pages of “Britain’s X-files” were released by the Ministry of Defence in a move brought about by a “deluge” of Freedom of Information requests by UFO conspiracy theorists.
The 160 files – the first eight of which, covering 1978-1987, are published today – throw up no “saucer-in-a-hangar smoking gun” in the skies, experts said last night.
However, the papers, viewable on the National Archives’ web site, do show that officials conducted a full investigation into every claimed sighting until the 1980s. The files, one of which is more than 450 pages long, show that since the 1950s thousands of seemingly ordinary people have claimed UFO sightings in this country.
In June 1983 a woman in Sanderstead, Surrey, opened her curtains at 3am to see a giant rectangular object passing past her bedroom window. “There seemed to be no means of propulsion, the object was not being pushed, pulled, lifted or carried. Its movement was silent,” she said. A picture of what she says she saw features in one of the files published today.
The development came as those who believe in extra-terrestrial life were given new hope from an unlikely quarter. In an article for the Vatican newspaper l’Osservatore Romano headlined “Aliens Are My Brother”, the Pope’s official astronomer, Fr Gabriel Funes, said intelligent beings created by God could exist in outer space.
But, if aliens do exist, they appear not to have bothered to hover over Whitehall. In a definitive 1979 briefing note, the department wrote: “Her Majesty’s Government has never been approached by people from outer space.”
That the question was being raised, however, shows Britain was still investigating sightings well beyond when the US decided UFOs posed no threat and most reports were explained by natural phenomena.
The MoD’s move is likely to attract considerable excitement in the Ufologist world. When France’s national space agency released similar material last year its website crashed after 220,000 internet users logged on. The National Archives has subcontracted the section of its site in order to handle the expected online onslaught.
It will show that in April 1984 police in Edgware, north London, were called to investigate a light flashing “blue, white, green and pink”, followed by a “blinding white ball with a tail”. Women ran to their homes, screaming, with one declaring to officers: “I am not a nutter.”
A reader informs us that the photo above, which accompanied the Independent article, is itself a fraud as revealed in this video. We leave readers to decide if the ballyhoo surrounding the release of Britain’s X-Files isn’t an attempt to divert attention from more pressing issues. As the other pictures in the file are none too impressive.
Naturally, this doesn’t mean that UFO’s don’t exist. Its just that we need to be a little more sceptical and cynical about anything coming from the authorities. Ed.