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5. What is the significance of the classification “Secret” applied to the UAP Report?

The MoD has stated publicly on many occasions over the past 40 years that the topic of UFOs was not classified. The material released at the TNA suggests, however, that on occasions when UFO reports impinged upon other areas that were covered by security – for example, the capabilities of defence radars – they could become subject to the Official Secrets Act (OSA). For example, an Air Ministry document from 1960 states clearly:

“The Press are never to be given information about unusual radar sightings…unauthorised disclosures of this type will be viewed as offences under the Official Secrets Act.” (DEFE 31/117)

In the UK there are two levels of security classification for official documents: Secret and Top Secret. In 1998 the MoD released a group of Top Secret documents which refer to UFOs at The National Archives. These are the minutes of the DSI/JTIC committee, 1950-51 which refer to the Flying Saucer Working Party. The FSWP report itself was classified "Secret/Discreet” and the Air Ministry Secret Intelligence Summary was classified “Secret – UK Eyes Only.”

In Hansard, House of Lords, 25 January 2001, Lord Hill-Norton asked “what is the highest classification that has been applied to any MoD document concerning UFOs” The reply was:

“A limited search through available files has identified a number of documents graded Secret. The overall classification of the documents was not dictated by details of specific sightings of ‘UFOs.’”

Hill-Norton followed up his question with another on 3 May asking “why the UFO documents referred to were classified secret; whether these documents had any caveats attached to them; and what was the reason for any such caveats.” The answer came:

“One document was classified ‘Secret’ with a ‘UK Eyes Only’
caveat because it contained information about the UK air defence ground environment that could be of significant value to hostile or potentially hostile states. Associated correspondence was given the same classification. Generally, however, notifications of and correspondence on the subject of ‘UFO’ sightings are unclassified.”

6. Was the “UFO desk” (Nick Pope’s former post at Sec(AS)) made aware of the existence and conclusions of the DI 55 study?

Ironically, in view of the dispute over the term UFO and the ongoing confusion over who within MoD had “need to know” on the topic, it is significant that Sec(AS) were not included in the distribution list of MoD branches who received copies of the report.

According to the DIST minute of 4 December 2000 announcing completion of the study, only the Director General (Research & Technology) along with DI 55 and DI51 received copies of all four volumes. DG(R&T) was, in 2000, Mr Mike Martin CBE, who later became the MoD’s Science and Technical Director. According to the Civil Service Yearbook (2004) this post “supports the Chief Scientific Adviser and provides scientific advice including technical scrutiny of equipment projects.”

The UK Air Defence Ground Environment (UKADGE) received the Executive Summary and Volume 3 which contains “sensitive” material related to the limitations of UK radar in the detection of UAPs.

Summaries of the UAP Report were sent to the Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence (DCDI), to the Inspectorate of Flight Safety (RAF) and to HQ MATO [Military Air Traffic Organisation, RAF Uxbridge], which ceased to exist in 2001 following a merger with Strike Command. Significantly, in their covering letter DIST added:

“…while most of the report is classified as only SECRET we hardly need remind addressees of the media interest and consequently the sensitivity of the report. Please protect accordingly, and discuss the report only with those who have a need to know.”

Sec(AS) – renamed DAS in 2001 - was conspicuous by its absence from this privileged distribution list. Presumably this was because someone at a higher level in the pecking order felt they had no “need to know.” This may well be a direct result of the activities of the former Sec(AS) desk officer Nick Pope who had gone public with his pro-UFO beliefs in 1996, a period which coincided with the doubling of the workload for the UFO desk staff.

In November 2005 David Clarke asked DAS staff how, if they were not included in the distribution of the report, they learned of DIST’s decision. The reply, dated 23 November 2005 stated:

“I have searched our UFO Policy file for the period and there is no document specifically concerning this issue. I can therefore only assume that we were informed by telephone.”

So much for claims that Sec(AS) were the central focal point for all UFO matters within the Ministry of Defence!

Copyright David Clarke 2006

Read: “MoD Review of UFO Policy 1997”

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