Drawing of alien waving (catalogue reference: DEFE 24/2457/1)

21 June 2013

The National Archives has today released its tenth and final tranche of UFO files, containing 4,400 pages of UFO policy, correspondence and UFO sighting reports covering the final two years of the Ministry of Defence's UFO Desk (from late 2007 until November 2009).

The files reveal for the first time the reasons behind the closure of the UFO Desk and how sightings had become a social phenomenon making tabloid headlines and sparking a disclosure campaign for 'the truth'.

Dr David Clarke, author of the book 'The UFO Files', said: 'The last pieces of the puzzle have finally been revealed with this insight into the last days of the UFO Desk. These files spell out clearly why the Ministry of Defence decided - after 60 years - it no longer needed to keep tabs on sightings, even those made by 'credible' people such as police officers and pilots. The last files from the UFO desk are now all in the public domain. People at home can read them and draw their own conclusions about whether 'the truth' is in these files or still out there.'

Reasons behind the closure

The UFO Desk received over 600 UFO sightings and reports in 2009, treble the amount of the previous year. With this surge in sighting reports, increasing time and resources were needed to manage the UFO Desk, which the files note 'serves no defence purpose and merely encourages the generation of correspondence'.

The files also show that in 2009, Defence Minister Bob Ainsworth was told that in more than 50 years 'no UFO sighting reported to [MoD] has ever revealed anything to suggest an extra-terrestrial presence or military threat to the UK' (DEFE 24/2458/1). 

File highlights

  • A letter from a school child to the MoD asking for the truth about UFOs after she had seen some strange lights (includes a drawing of an alien in a UFO waving, above). The UFO desk sent a bag of RAF goodies in response (DEFE 24/ 2457/1)
  • A report received via the UFO hotline by someone who had been 'living with an alien' in Carlisle for some time (DEFE 24/2625/1)
  • Report by a man from Cardiff who claimed a UFO abducted his dog, car and tent while while he was camping with friends (DEFE 24/2623/1)
  • MoD police officer sighting of pear drop-shaped 'translucent green light' from Royal Navy Base at Portsmouth (DEFE 24/2460/1)

The files are free to download for a month at nationalarchives.gov.uk/ufos.

You can also read a guest post by Dr David Clarke about the files on our blog and order his book The UFO Files (2nd edition) from our bookshop.

New UFO app

To mark the end of the UFO file release programme, an iPhone/iPad app UFO Files UK has been created by Black Plaques in association with The National Archives. The app lets users explore the official data by searching UFO reports dating back 25 years, with almost 5,000 sightings analysed, categorised and mapped.

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