By George Harrison
Government officials have finally finished the ten-year process of declassifying Britain's real-life X Files, but some think they've been made deliberately hard to access. Former MoD alien expert Nick Pope wonders what's really been going on.
THE MoD has spent ten years releasing a trickle of declassified files relating to UFO sightings... and now the final three documents have been made public.
This final release completes the Government's long process of publishing Britain's real-life X Files, formerly top-secret papers containing eyewitness accounts, sketches and police reports of UFO sightings from the 1970s to the early noughties.
Nick Pope, former UFO investigator at the MoD, has suggested that alien enthusiasts won't be too chuffed with this final release
Over the past decade, the files, which have been drip-fed into the public domain to hush any claims of a conspiracy, were ushered out without any fanfare from the Government, with batches steadily and unceremoniously cropping up online.
The final three documents appeared on the National Archives website on January 1, and are all dated from 1986.
One is described as UFO incidents, while the others are filed under UFO reports and UFO correspondence.
But, even after spending the past three decades behind the closed doors of the MoD, they're unlikely to satisfy conspiracy theorists.
Past file releases have included eyewitness accounts of UFO sightings
Unlike many of the releases before it, this final wave of files won't be available online, and the timing of their publication is sure to cause more a stir among the UFO community.
Officials originally decided to circulate the documents to save the hassle of responding to thousands of freedom of information requests about the Government's knowledge of UFOs.
But Nick Pope, who used to run the Ministry of Defence's UFO project, says conspiracy theorists are likely to be "incensed" by the questions thrown up by the final file dump.
Now, believers will want to know why the Government waited ten years to release these files, and why they've been made so hard to get hold of.
The release of these files prove governments are taking alien life more seriously than we thought... and some reckon they're still hiding something
Why January 1?
One reason why UFO hunters are unlikely to be happy is the precise timing of the release, on New Years Day.
Nick says: "This looks suspiciously as if The National Archives tried to sneak out this release when nobody was looking."
Some will be asking whether this was an attempt to bury the release by shuffling it out on a bank holiday when everyone was in bed.
It's true that January 1 is a common release date for public files, but hardcore UFO hunters will want to know why the MoD has held on to these for so long in the first place.
Previous files include sketches and police reports relating to UFO sightings
Is there a link to the Pentagon's UFO research?
This final wave of files, which caps off a ten-year release programme, was published after the big news broke that the American government was hiding its own X Files.
Nick said: "Coming so soon after the revelations about the Pentagon's UFO program, this will raise suspicion in the UFO community that there's been co-ordination between the US and UK government on this."
Conspiracy theorists may also wonder whether the MoD's UFO reports ever tied in with the Pentagon's £16 million investigation into the existence of UFOs and aliens.
Dubbed the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, the secret project ran for five years, proving that both US and UK governments take aliens more seriously than we all thought
Why aren't they online?
Unlike many of the other X Files, the final three documents haven't been digitised.
That means anyone who wants to read them will have to either visit the National Archives in person or fork out to order a copy of the documents.
While hardcore alien chasers are unlikely to be put off by this, it does make it harder for members of the public to access the declassified files.
Nick has previously been critical of the way the release has been handled, and he says having to pay for the final files is sure to outrage the UFO community.
He added: "Having worked on the MoD's UFO investigations in the Nineties I'm pleased that these files are finally in the open.
"There's no smoking gun in these files that says UFOs are extraterrestrial, but there are plenty of interesting sighting reports and other related material relating to MoD research on the subject.
"These recent revelations in the UK and the US show that whatever you believe about the UFO mystery, some of us in government took the subject seriously."