UFO files: MoD avoided ‘international conspiracy’ rumours

Officials at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) actively avoided formal approaches to other governments on the subject of UFOs amid fears of "international collaboration and conspiracy", newly released files reveal.

The final tranche of documents relating to the British government's tracking of reports of unidentified flying objects, which have just been released by the National Archives, shows that the MoD closed down the programme because it was becoming a drain on resources.

"The Ministry of Defence has no opinion on the existence or otherwise of extra-terrestrial life," an official MoD statement said.

"However, in over 50 years, no UFO report has revealed any evidence of a potential threat to the United Kingdom.

"The MoD has no specific capability for identifying the nature of such sightings. There is no defence benefit in such investigation and it would be an inappropriate use of defence resources.

"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."

The decision to close the UFO desk and hotline would trigger a backlash from 'ufologists', officials predicted.

They also noted that they had "deliberately avoided formal approaches to other governments on the issue" amid fears of "international collaboration and conspiracy".

The final year of the hotline, in 2009, saw 643 sightings reported – a trebling of the previous year. It is thought this could be due to a craze of people releasing Chinese lanterns at weddings.

The array of reports included a person who claimed to have been living with an alien and sightings of UFOs around key landmarks, including Stonehenge and the Houses of Parliament.

But in a briefing for defence minister Bob Ainsworth in November 2009, Carl Mantell of the RAF's Air Command said that half a century of research had shown no evidence of alien activity.

"No UFO sighting reported to (MoD) has ever revealed anything to suggest an extra-terrestrial presence or military threat to the UK", he said.

"The level of resources diverted to this task is increasing in response to a recent upsurge in reported sightings, diverting staff from more valuable defence-related activities."

Air traffic control centres and local police forces were advised to no longer refer UFO sightings to the MoD after the hotline was closed.