Earlier this week I noted that the UK National Archives had released the third instalment of ‘UFO Files’ from the British Ministry of Defence. British UFO researcher and journalist Dr David Clarke has been acting as consultant to the National Archives on the release of these files, and on their site has contributed a podcast and a helpful guide pointing out the highlights of the ‘new’ material.
For those interested in reading more, I recommend also checking out David Clarke’s blog, where he has posted a number of recent entries addressing the UFO files, giving more detail, and also more of his personal opinion on the incidents covered.
Amazingly, one MoD file in this tranche contains a complete copy of a report that Gary Anthony and I produced covering our investigation of a “flap” of UFO sightings in the Midlands during August 1987. On 27 January 1988 I sent my 27-page dossier to Clive Neville, who was UFO desk officer at the MoD, asking if any of the reports could be explained. I also offered to send him further dossiers, enclosing with my letter another detailed report prepared by Philip Mantle. This contained a set of photographs which appeared to show a “flying saucer” skimming rooftops in Barnsley (later, using an American photo analyst, we proved these were fakes).
In reply I received the standard “no defence significance” letter used by the MoD in response to all public UFO inquiries. But little did I know at the time, Neville had copied our reports to the Defence Intelligence Staff with a note that reads “they are quite detailed and of a better quality than I expected”. Praise indeed! During its travels along spooky corridors my “August report” was heavily annotated by someone with detailed knowledge of a subject that MoD publicly claimed to be of little or no interest to them. What’s more, it’s clear from the scribbles visible on these papers that details of the individual sightings they contained were entered into a computerised database which DI55 were secretly using to search for patterns in sighting data. (See DEFE 31/176/1, pages 337 onwards).
Clarke also talks at length about the ‘Calvine Diamond UFO’ photographs, offering a lot more background to the case, as well as suggesting that perhaps speculation about the ‘craft’ should be preceded by a more thorough investigation as to whether the original story (and photographs) stand up to scrutiny. Perhaps similar skepticism should be reserved for the MoD’s contention that the negatives “were never retained”…