Nick Pope has added a new article to his website which is a good primer for anyone interested in the British Ministry of Defence’s “UFO Files”. Nick gives a rundown of the background history, and offers some of his behind-the-scenes knowledge of how the MoD approaches UFO investigations and report filing – in particular the impact of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA):
The MoD receives more FOI requests relating to UFOs than on any other subject, including the war in Iraq or Afghanistan. The section where I worked is now so busy dealing with FOI requests that this has taken precedence over the research and investigation that was done in my day. Few UFO sightings are currently investigated in any meaningful sense of the word and most sightings elicit little more than a standard letter. A major case such as Ray Bowyer’s sighting over the Channel Islands on 23 April 2007 will at least be investigated, but not to the extent that has previously been the case. The case file on the Channel Islands UFO sighting ran to 9 pages. Compare that with previous major cases such as Rendlesham Forest or the Cosford Incident, where the case files ran to over 100 pages of documentation. Investigations are suffering because of the workload being put on staff due to FOI, but FOI is taking priority because if it fails to comply, MoD would be breaching the law.
…By 2007 the workload involved in dealing FOI requests was becoming intolerable and I know that staffs were getting increasingly frustrated. Accordingly, because of the administrative burden involved in responding to UFO-related FOI requests on a case by case basis, MoD decided to proactively release its entire archive of UFO files. As mentioned earlier, the French government did this in 2007 (and the dedicated server crashed due to the volume of hits as around 220,000 people attempted to access the material on the day of release) and this was another reason for the release, as was the hope that the move would help deal with accusations that MoD was covering up the truth about UFOs. Indeed, both the MoD and the National Archives hope that this will be a good news story about open government and freedom of information. MoD confirmed to me in December 2007 that the final decision had been taken and I duly broke the story in the media.
Nick also surveys the two releases of documents that occurred this year, picking out some of the highlights.
Previously on TDG: