MoD blocked expert's request for UFO information
THE release of files about a Ministry of Defence civil servant-turned-UFO expert was blocked.
Nick Pope drew on his experiences working for Britain's official UFO investigation unit for a number of books about aliens and strange sights in the skies.
Fellow UFO researcher David Clarke made a Freedom of Information request in 2007 for internal MoD documents about Mr Pope's decision to speak publicly about his conversion from sceptic to believer in the possibility that extra-terrestrials are visiting Earth.
But more than three years later, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) upheld the department's refusal to publish the files because they contain personal information. Mr Pope worked on the MoD's UFO desk from 1991 to 1994, dealing with possible sightings sent in by the public.
He published his first book about the phenomenon, 'Open Skies, Closed Minds', in 1996, although he continued working for the MoD until November 2006.
The MoD's official line is that it has no opinion on whether or not aliens exist but 50 years of UFO reports uncovered no evidence of a potential threat to the UK. Dr Clarke asked the department to release records of its internal discussions about how to respond when Mr Pope began talking to the media about UFOs in 1995-96.
He obtained an April 1996 memo written by a senior officer in defence intelligence, who said the matter should be approached "very delicately".