Published: 3:43 PM 6/27/2013
By Mark Taylor, Reporter
IF the truth is out there the Government has just made it harder to find, according to Oxfordshire’s UFO experts.
Declassified files from the National Archives revealed the Ministry of Defence’s decided to shut its UFO desk and hotline in 2009 because they “took staff away from more valuable defence-related activities.”
Michael Soper, of Wheatley-based Contact International UFO Research, said he does not buy the official line that they “serve no defence purpose”.
He said the number of US drones flying over the UK is set to increase, and has called on the Ministry of Defence to come clean over its intentions.
The 72-year-old, who has been charting unidentified flying objects across Oxfordshire skies for five decades, said it was just “common sense” for the Government to have a department to keep an eye on UK airspace using the naked eye.
Instead, the decision to shut the UFO department backed up the idea the UK wants to push all spotters of objects from outer space into a “conspiracy pile.”
He said: “They have closed the friendly face of UFO-reporting, and you do have to wonder who will benefit from this.
“The UFO reports will still come in, but there won’t be a group there to publish the results. Who in the Civil Service has the right to decide on things like this?
“Given we are on an island it makes sense that we have a true body looking at the skies, as well as people like ourselves.”
Mr. Soper said he had collected more-than 80,000 reports of sightings since his own experiences with UFOs in 1959.
He said: “About one in 10 is worth taking notice of.
“You do get things like Chinese lanterns and flashes across the sun, which do confuse people, but then you get the really interesting, unexplained sightings.”
Contact International UFO Research meets once a fortnight in either Abingdon or Wheatley.
It has five core volunteers, and a network of about 100 people, to which it distributes literature.
The National Archive documents reveal the number of UFO sightings trebled to 643 in 2009 - the year the department was shut down - the second-highest number since 750 were logged in 1978.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said the body has “no opinion on the existence or otherwise of extra-terrestrial life.
“In over 50 years, no UFO report has revealed any evidence of a potential threat to the UK “Furthermore, responding to reported UFO sightings diverts MoD resources from tasks that are relevant to defence.”
“MoD will no longer respond to reported UFO sightings or investigate them.”