The United Kingdom released 15 of its remaining 18 UFO files this week, a move that experts noted would likely set the conspiracy theory contingent to speculating about and accusing the government of a cover-up. Known as “Britain’s X-Files,” the newly released material covers some 34 years of UFO reporting and research, including the infamous Rendlesham Forest incident, which has become known as Britain’s Roswell.
According to the Daily Mail, cries of cover-up by conspiracy theorists and Ufologists have already started. And although there are three mystery files that are yet to be released, the British government insists that they will join all of U.K. UFO files (which number in the thousands) at the National Archives before the end of the year.
The recent declassified UFO files have not been digitized, either, making it difficult for researchers and laypeople alike to observe and study their contents. Until the 15 files become digitized, those who cannot wait will have to journey to Kew, West London, to gain access to them.
The release of the files by the Ministry of Defense will be the last, closing the declassification process that began nine years ago. The final batch of UFO files were supposed to be released in 2013 with thousands of other case files. The government, citing regulations regarding the release of formerly classified material during an election, held on to the 18 files, which then became known as “Britain’s X-Files” and contributed to the conspiracy theories and cover-up speculation.
But Nick Pope, who once worked for the Ministry of Defense investigating UFO phenomena, says that the newly released UFO files were not the “smoking gun” some would like them to be.
“Sadly, there’s no ‘smoking gun’ in these files that will prove we’ve been visited by extraterrestrials, but there are plenty of intriguing UFO reports, as well as policy papers explaining how the MoD handled this subject.”
Pope said much the same thing back in May (per National Geographic) when it was first announced by the National Archives that the 18-file dossier was to be released. “There’s no smoking gun in these files that will confirm the existence of aliens,” he said, “but there are plenty of fascinating UFO reports and MoD policy documents, so these really are the real life X-Files.”
Pope noted that lack of the “smoking gun” evidence and that the 15 UFO files were released without much fanfare will lead to conspiracy theories, because many will latch on to the three missing files, assuming that the “good stuff” has been withheld by the government.
According to the Daily Express, Nick Pope, who said he was not pre-briefed on this release (as he was on the previous Ministry of Defense UFO file releases), elaborated on those prone to see conspiracy in the three mystery files. He said he suspects that “the UFO and conspiracy theory community will say that these files have been ‘snuck out’.”
“Snuck out” or not, the files are set to be released later this year.
Many UFO enthusiasts and researchers are hoping to find more information on the Rendlesham Forest incident, an alleged UFO sighting in December 1980 by three U.S. officers based at RAF Bentwaters near Woodbridge, Suffolk, England. The case was investigated by U.K.’s Ministry of Defense and found to have no evidence of aliens, nor was it deemed a national security risk. The official conclusion was that the UFO sightings were the result of light beams coming from a nearby lighthouse.
Pope said he believes that searchers will be disappointed, because he believes the material on the Rendlesham Forest incident are duplicates of material already released to the public.
“I think these files perfectly capture the wonder and fascination of the UFO mystery and show how MoD officials — myself included — struggled to make sense of one of the great mysteries of the modern era,” Pope said.
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