Recently Released Documents Show MoD Wanted to be Done with UFOs


Dr. David Clarke, a principal research fellow at the UK’s Sheffield Hallam University, wrote in his blog recently that he had received the final three UFO files released by the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) Defence Intelligence branch DI55, after more than five years of waiting.  The files were originally withheld from an earlier release of records to the National Archives as part of the open government project that ran from 2008 to 2013.

DI55 secretly collected data on sightings from 1967 until the end of 2000, and in 1996 the MoD commissioned a defense contractor to provide them with a comprehensive report of UFO phenomena in the UK.

That study, code-named Project Condign, analyzed a database of sightings that occurred between 1987 and 1997.  The results of Project Condign were delivered to MoD officials in 2000 as a report entitled Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) in the UK Air Defence Region, and concluded that sightings of unidentified flying objects could be explained by a variety of both man-made and natural phenomena, and that "no evidence exists to associate the phenomena with any particular nation."

The heavily-redacted files received by Clarke are over 2,500 pages long, and present a "fascinating picture of the arguments that raged behind closed doors," he said.

"Within the files civil servants, intelligence officers and military staff debate how the British Government should respond to growing public interest in the phenomena and what they called ‘the media’s obsession with UFOs,'" Clarke said.

According to Clarke, the new papers introduce a "disturbing aspect of [the MoD's] interest in the subject--and their decision to pull the plug on more than half a century monitoring UFO reports."

"The new papers show the UFO desk head in 1997 ‘wanted to get rid of’ an issue they considered a ‘diversion from their main duties,'" Clarke said.  "But her opposite number in DI55 – a RAF Wing Commander – disagreed with their ostrich-like stance."

"He argued that as MoD had not carried out any study of the UFO data they had collected since the 1970s it was not credible – and also politically risky – to continue to claim UFOs posed no ‘threat to the realm,'" Clarke continued.

Ultimately, in 2000, following Project Condign, the head of Defence Intelligence, P.H. West, asked the MoD’s publicly acknowledged branch that investigated UFOs, known as the UFO Desk, to stop copying reports of unidentified flying objects to DI55--including reports from credible sources like police officers and air traffic controllers.  DI55 then closed at the end of 2000, and the UFO Desk followed suit in 2009.

Clarke argued that the Condign report was itself flawed, since it based many of its conclusions on an unproven atmospheric phenomenon known as 'atmospheric plasma,' and that the decision to end the MoD's involvement with UFOs was made well before the study's conclusion.  

The author of a 'UK Restricted' document dated April 16th, 1998, is quoted as saying, "I am particularly looking ahead to my expected recommendation, that DI55 should no longer be involved in UAP monitoring."

"This document reveals the MoD’s real agenda was the requirement for a definitive conclusion that would allow them to justify their decision to halt all further public work on the UFO issue," Clarke said.  "And it may also explain why these files were held back for so long."

A statement released by the MoD to Fox News earlier this week was dismissive of the UFO investigator's concerns.

“All our historic files which refer to UFOs have either been released, or are in the process of being released to The National Archives,” it said. “The MoD continues to have no opinion on the existence, or otherwise, of extra-terrestrial life and does not investigate reported unidentified flying object sightings.”

Tobias Wayland