MoD 'blanked out' UFO comments
The Ministry of Defence had to blank out "uncomplimentary comments" made by officials about members of the public before publishing its UFO files, a newly released document has shown.
Following a deluge of requests under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2000, the MoD agreed to disclose its full archive of reported sightings of unexplained sights in the skies.
But a previously secret memo reveals that the files had to be edited for references to military technology, relations with other countries and insulting remarks about the public written by defence officials and police.
The document, now posted on the MoD's website, also shows that officials feared publishing only part of the information would "fuel accusations of a 'cover-up'".
Thousands of pages from the department's UFO files have been released through the National Archives since 2008, revealing details of hundreds of reports of strange flying objects and encounters with aliens.
The newly released memo to ministers and defence chiefs, dated September 2007, discusses how to handle making the information public.
It notes: "The majority of the files are of low security classification, but include references to air defence matters, defence technology, relations with foreign powers and occasional uncomplimentary comments by staff or police officers about members of the public, which will need to be withheld in accordance with FoI principles."
The document continues: "The MoD is aware of no clear evidence to prove or disprove the existence of aliens, and consequently the files are considerably less exciting than the 'industry' surrounding the UFO phenomena would like to believe."
Dealing with all the FoI requests for information about UFOs was becoming "increasingly costly and time-consuming" by 2007, with the Directorate of Air Staff receiving 199 applications in 2005 alone, the memo shows.
Officials realised they would be forced to release virtually all the MoD files within a few years, and decided it would be better to do this in a "structured" way. The document pours cold water on conspiracy theories suggesting the Government was heavily involved in investigating aliens.