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MoD: UFOs are not a military threat

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 02 March 2010

Exclusive documents: The UFO hotline was closed in November last year because the MoD believes UFOs are not a threat to our national security.

Alien (credit:Reuters)

They might be out there, but they are not a threat to the UK. That is the official reason why the UFO hotline was shut down at the end of November last year as the Ministry of Defence looked to cut costs.

Responding to a Freedom of Information request by Dr David Clarke, a lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, the MoD memo dated 11 November states: "In more than fifty years no UFO sighting reported to the Department has indicated the existence of any military threat to the UK."

The secret document, exclusively revealed to Channel 4 News, goes on: "The level of resources devoted to this task is increasing in response to a recent upsurge in reported sightings, diverting staff from more valuable Defence-related activities."

Dr Clarke told Channel 4 News he thought it was a big mistake that the UFO hotline was being shut down. "It's misguided. This subject will not go away," he said.

"Sooner or later they'll be a big sighting, by someone like an airline pilot, and they'll be a huge public outcry into why no one is looking into them."

Read the documents
- Letter to Dr David Clarke relating to UFO hotline closure
- MOD policy concerning UFO reports
- US Department of Defence policy on UFOs
- MOD Correspondence relating to the closure of the UFO hotline

Sightings of UFOs were first recorded during the Second World War by fighter pilots. In 1950 the "Flying saucer working party" was set up to look into the phenomena but now future sightings will no longer be recorded.

And according to the United States' defense website, UFO sightings will no longer being investigated by the US government. Any new sightings reported in the UK will be retained for 30 days, and then destroyed.

Nick Pope, who investigated UFOs for the Ministry of Defence from 1991 to 1994 told Channel 4 News it is a "tragedy" new sightings will end up being shredded instead of heading to the National archives.

"What will happen is that the media will fill the gap, the civilian UFO groups will step in, but you'll have no one drawing this all together," he said. "Whether you believe in UFOs or not, it is one of the great mysteries of our time... A mystery we're less likely to solve than would've been the case."

Whilst working at the MoD, Mr Pope said up to five per cent of reported sightings were never explained. And as to whether any sightings did pose a threat to national security, he added: "My view is that if something is spotted in British airspace by radar or by a pilot it must be by default of defence interest."

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