Source: Sunday Times (London, England) (April 18, 2004): p8. (481 words)
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Full Text :COPYRIGHT 2004 Sunday Times
THOUSANDS of classified documents detailing UFO sightings and alien apparitions across Britain are to be made public by the Ministry of Defence.
The files, some of which have languished in the ministry's top secret archives since the 1940s, will be declassified later this year.
Senior officials at the MoD have ordered the papers' release to pre-empt a flood of requests from UFO enthusiasts and conspiracy theorists under new freedom of information legislation, which comes into force in 2005.
The documents are expected to include a photograph of a UFO taken near Pitlochry, Perthshire, in 1990. The image was so convincing that ministry officials, who were unable to discredit it, pinned it up in their office.
The findings of an investigation into a famous UFO sighting, above Craigluscar reservoir near Dunfermline, Fife, are also expected to be released.
In addition, reports into unexplained activities in Bonnybridge, Stirlingshire, will be declassified. The extent of sightings led to the area being dubbed the Falkirk Triangle.
More than 200 files will be published on the MoD's website. They contain thousands of documents, including photographs and sightings by military personnel, airline pilots, the police and public. Some of the UFO reports are corroborated by radar images.
MoD staff are currently sifting through the archives and plan to publish their files by the end of the year. From January 1, 2005, members of the public will have the right to access information held by public bodies under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
"In the midst of reams and reams of reported sightings from the public, there will be some real gems, including hard core sightings which have defied investigation," said Nick Pope, former head of the MoD's Secretariat (Air Staff) 2a office, which handled UFO inquiries.
Scotland has the highest concentration of UFO sightings in the world, with 300 reported close encounters each year.
The widespread public interest in UFOs is expected to generate a flood of inquiries. When files on alleged UFO activity at an American military base in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, were published on the internet in November 2002, the site attracted more than 30,000 hits within a few months. *
The release of the MoD documents could, however, sound the death knell for those who have tried to prove the existence of extra-terrestrials.
Susan Blackmore, a UFO investigator, welcomed the decision. "The best medicine we have against the idiocy and lunacy of conspiracy theorists is by making everything available. Now they can spend endless time sifting through the MoD's paperwork and they will find the truth -that we're alone in this part of the galaxy." **
Yet experts predict not everybody will be deterred by the publication of the previously classified files.
"With the die-hard conspiracy theorists you simply cannot win," said Pope.
"They will still insist the real secrets are hidden in a dusty drawer."
Copyright (C) The Sunday Times, 2004
* ISGP note: Randlesham forest is a bogus UFO case peddled endlessly by Coast to Coast AM guests.
** ISGP note: If the reader is surprised by the extremely harsh words of a "UFO investigator", keep in mind that Susan Blackmore is not a "UFO investigator". She is a UFO debunker. Blackmore is a psychologist who is a fellow of the notorious CSICOP, one of the premier "skeptics" organizations.