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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2005 > May > May 25

Re: British National Archives UFO Research Guide -

From: Joe McGonagle <joe.mcgonagle.nul>
Date: Wed, 25 May 2005 14:49:39 +0100
Fwd Date: Wed, 25 May 2005 16:51:06 -0400
Subject: Re: British National Archives UFO Research Guide -

>From: Nick Pope <nick.nul>
>To: <ufoupdates.nul>
>Date: Tue, 24 May 2005 01:21:16 +0100
>Subject: Re: British National Archives UFO Research Guide

>>From: Joe McGonagle <joe.mcgonagle.nul>
>>To: <ufoupdates.nul>
>>Date: Wed, 18 May 2005 23:53:26 +0100
>>Subject: Re: British National Archives UFO Research Guide

Hello Nick, List,


>I've snipped your extremely lengthy post, but hope that I've
>nonetheless answered all your questions about the British
>Government's UFO Project.


>The National Archives Research Note 6, on UFOs, was adapted from
>the Official History article that Georgina Bruni and I wrote
>several years ago. I wasn't consulted on this, but since I state
>that all material on my website may be freely used, for non-
>commercial purposes, I wasn't concerned.

>Recently, however, I noticed that Research Note 6 had been
>expanded to give a list of file references provided by ufologist
>Dave Clarke. But somehow, his name had appeared at the end of
>the Research Note, as if he'd written the Official History. As
>this was an obvious falsehood, I had it corrected. When the


Thanks for that, Nick. Definitely a complete and unambiguous
answer and much appreciated.

>>In respect to the Flying Saucer Working Party at the site
>>referred to above, you describe a series of clues which led
>>researchers to request the document from the MoD.


>This isn't correct. If you re-read the Official History you'll
>see that I was pointing to clues that should have alerted
>ufologists to the existence of these documents. I wasn't
>commenting on how various ufologists actually learned of their
>existence and obtained them.

Having re-read the article, I am still left with the impression
that you were implying that this is what led you/Georgina to the
document. I am also surprised that the actual means of discovery
are not in fact discussed, but an example of how someone could
have discovered it is discussed. It looks a bit like someone
saying "you can find mines by standing on them and seeing if
they go 'BANG!'" without mentioning that they actually prefer to
use a metal detector.

>>Please can you elaborate on exactly how and when you became
>>aware of the FSWP document and the date that you requested a
>>copy of it?

>Georgina Bruni obtained them in 2001, but I don't know precisely
>when. She learned of their existence through unrelated research
>into the Cold War. I didn't find out that she had the papers
>until later.

Thanks again. Not knowing precisely when Georgina acquired them
(or requested them), how can you be sure that she was the
individual that "discovered" them first?

I have tonight submitted a FoIA request which should
definitively resolve the question. If it turns out that Georgina
submitted her request before Clarke and Roberts circulated
details of the discovery, I shall publicly apologise to her and
you on-list. If it appears that the request was subsequent to
C&R's announcement, I would hope that you would have the grace
to do the same.

>>I further note that you have pointedly avoided mentioning the
>>work of Clarke and Roberts by name in respect to the discovery
>>of the document. Are you willing to correct that situation now?

>Clarke and Roberts were sent the documents by the MOD, as were
>numerous other ufologists and journalists. They published
>extracts in their book in May 2002, but UFO Magazine had
>published the documents in full, a month earlier, together with
>a detailed analysis written by Georgina Bruni and myself. This
>scoop was seen (incorrectly) as a deliberate spoiler, and led to
>some furious abuse from certain quarters.

I rather think that the cause of the "furious abuse" (or, to my
mind, "righteous indignation") was the lack of acknowledgment to
Clarke and Roberts for the "scoop" - they published details on
their web site, here on UpDates, and also in "The Observer"
newspaper on 21st October 2001, 6 months before the article in
UFO magazine. See:




They were effectively written out of the scene by the article
co-authored by you in UFO Magazine, and there has been no
subsequent acknowledgment of their work by either you or
Georgina since, aside from the ignominous mention by you of "two
enterprising members of the public" in January 2002.


>I've snipped out much of the rest of your post, which relates to
>the scope and scale of the British Government's UFO Project, and
>the extent to which it was drawn into looking at phenomena such
>as alien abductions, crop circles and cattle mutilations.

>The best way I can explain this to you is to say that the
>Project was reactive. If we received reports of such phenomena,
>we'd look into them. It didn't matter whether or not it was in
>our terms of reference. My article on the Ministry of Defence's
>involvement with the crop circle mystery gives an illustration
>of how this worked in practice, though clearly neither this
>article nor the chapter on crop circles in my book Open Skies
>Closed Minds can possibly capture everything that took place:


Okay, though your wording is a little ambiguous here, I think
you would have to agree with the following:

1. In relation to alien abductions, your only official
involvement was to file reports, console reported abductees, and
stay abreast of media reports of such incidents. Incidentally, I
have a copy of a letter from you (in your official capacity) to
an UFO researcher dated 13th July 1992 in which you wrote:

"I do not know the precise nature of your enquiry, but if you
were after a general idea of what our UFO files contain, then I
suspect that they are far less exciting than many would suppose.
Essentially, they contain letters asking about the official view
on the UFO phenomena, and actual UFO sighting reports. These
reports are almost all ones that could be classsified as
"lights/discs in the sky". In my time here (almost exactly a
year) I have not received one report of any "close encounter" or
"abduction". From my study of our previous files (ie those that
we have cupboard space for here, going back to about 1985!) I
can only recall one or two such reports. I suspect that for
whatever reason, people might feel more comfortable about making
such reports to UFO groups as opposed to contacting us."

I will try to scan this document and place it on the web (with
the identity of the researcher concerned deleted) when I get the
chance - I have permission to do so.

2. In regard to Crop circles, your official involvement was to
respond to letters from the public and stay abreast of the media
coverage. If there was any implication that military aircraft
created the formation, you had to assess the viability of that
implication and if it was viable, pass it on for further
investigation. The only instance that you were further involved
was an abortive attempt to have a soil sample analysed (why the
MoD would want to do so bemuses me).

3. In regard to animal mutilation, you had no official
involvement, other than to file any reports of this that were
sent to you and possibly acknowledge such reports.

If you agree with the above three points, how do you reconcile
them with your web site introductory page where it states
"Welcome to the official website for Nick Pope, the Ministry of
Defence official who was responsible for researching and
investigating UFOs,alien abductions, crop circles, cattle
mutilations and other strange phenomena.."? The implication
implies a much inflated view of your activities (investigation
and research as opposed to filing and responding) while in the
post, according to some of your other writings. For example, I
have a transcript of a television interview by central TV from
the period of your incumbancy of the "UFO desk". The subject
being interviewed was asked:

"...Isn't it really true to say that there is no real policy on
the subject, and that it has all depended on the views of the
individual desk officers?"

To which he replied:

"No. As I've explained, our policy is that our role is to look
for any evidence of a threat to the UK, and further, that we
believe most sightings can be readily explained. I should stress
that overall, in the scheme of things, UFOs is a tiny part of my
branch's business - probably not even taking up a quarter of my

Do these words sound familiar to you at all, Nick?

>You also asked how the British Government's UFO Project compared
>to Project Blue Book. We were always the poor relation and if
>that's your point, I can only agree with you. Naturally, I wish
>we'd been better resourced. However, the aims of the UK and US
>projects were the same: to research and investigate the UFO
>phenomenon, with a view to assessing whether there was evidence
>of anything of defence significance, and specifically, any
>threat to national security.

No, my point is that it is _you_ that keeps mentioning the two
"projects" in the same breath (in fact it is one project (Blue
Book) and one role, each distinctly different in terms of
resourcing and scope). This comparison is entirely invalid and

>>Since investigations into the defence implications of
>>alleged UFO sightings might involve highly classified material
>>it was agreed that S4(Air) has no "need to know" about the
>>enquiries made by any specialist branch in the course of an
>>investigation. It followed that detailed reports on such
>>investigations could not be included in the S4 files which would
>>ultimately be disclosed when UFO reports were opened to the


>I'm afraid you've misunderstood the document you quote. What
>this actually means is that methods and sources aren't
>discussed. All cases (public and military) would still go to the
>civilian secretariat division, as they did during my tour of
>duty. If you look at the Subject Indicator Code on any UFO
>signals in the public domain, you'll notice that the secretariat
>is the action addressee. What the document means is that if the
>Defence Intelligence Staff found an explanation, they wouldn't
>necessarily share information on how they'd reached that

No, I don't think that I misunderstood it at all. The bottom
line was that nothing of a sensitive nature should appear in
S4's files, and that could only be the case if you weren't "in
the loop" as far as sensitive material was concerned. In other
words, if a sighting was due to an Aurora overflight, S4 would
simply be told that "No ESV activity could be identified that
might be responsible for the report" or some similar (and
perfectly true) response. The real cause would not be conveyed,
and therefore not appear in S4 files.

>You're not the first to suggest that the division where I worked
>was some sort of 'shop window', dealing only with UFO cases from
>the public. However, documents recently released under the FOIA
>are demonstrating what I've tried to explain for some time,
>namely that the civilian secretariat division and the Defence
>Intelligence Staff worked together on all UFO investigations. If
>you think about it logically, this is the only way that the
>relationship could work, and that UFO sightings could be
>properly investigated.

I never said that reports (from any source) were not channeled
in via S4, but that S4 was sometimes not made fully aware of the
activities or conclusions reached by consultative departments,
particularly where sensitive information was concerned.

Something else that I have noticed amongst the files at TNA and
elsewhere is that cases which clearly merit follow-up action
show no sign of having been followed up at all, though I find it
hard to believe that they were simply ignored. If they weren't
ignored, where are the details of the follow-up? Not in the S4

I feel that I should point out that although my remarks may seem
personalised and unkind, I am simply trying to establish the
true level of interest in UFOs held by the MoD over the years.
With a few, short-duration exceptions, the level of interest has
consistently appeared to be very low prior to and following your
tenure. It seems inconsistent that your period of tenure should
have been substantially different.

In the matter of who discovered the FSWP documents and secured
their release, that is a matter which is pertinent to ufology as
a whole. I am personally reluctant to circulate early results of
any research, until it has reached a point where it can not be
hijacked so that someone else gets to claim the credit for my
efforts. I am not alone in this attitude, and it is hindering
progress on a number of research activities in the UK.



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