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David Vine


BBC 2, 'Newsnight', Friday, May 24, 1996,  22.30-23.15, British Time

[David Vine]
Now, for the first time, a Ministry of Defence insider is about to talk
publicly about the secret world of UFO sightings. Nick Pope spent four
years as the MOD's UFO watcher. His book about his experiences, "Open
Skies, Closed Minds," is published next month, and I'll be speaking to
Nick Pope in his first television interview in just a moment. But first
we've asked an actor to read some excerpts from his book:

"Until 1991 I was generally sceptical about the paranormal. I didn't
believe in UFO's, and anyway, paranormal experiences only happened to
weirdoes, didn't they?  My conversion was a slow one, but no less
extraordinary for that.  It is that some UFO sightings are probably
extra-terrestrial in origin.  It is not that I have gone mad.  Not that
I've made a blind leap of faith, but the conclusion I have drawn is the
only one borne out by the evidence.

What did happen at Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk?  There have been some
quite extraordinary attempts to explain away the events.  In 1980 two
security patrolmen on their tour of Woodbridge Airbase saw bright lights
in the forest.  The object was no aircraft.  They encountered a metallic
triangular craft unlike anything they had ever seen before.  I believe
the Ministry of Defence squandered a major opportunity by not
investigating the incident in detail at the time.  The trail has now
gone cold."

[Actor turns the page]

"UFOcal is the name given to a place where more UFO events than chance
should allow seem to occur.  Bonnybridge in Scotland has a good claim to
this title.  Some 8,000 reports were made by local inhabitants.   It is
a classic example of the way the reporting system fails that only two or
three of these _ever_ reached my desk."

The scene now switches to an interview with an elderly woman, standing
outside, in front of her house. The caption below reads: "Margaret Ross,
UFO Witness, Bonnybridge"

"My husband and I were going to bed one Saturday evening, and I happened
to look out of the window.  It was the bedroom window, which is this
one, up here (she points).  And er... I saw this really bright light in
the sky, and I thought...  So I decided to film this, so I picked up my
cine-camera (she holds up a video camera), and er... started filming.
And what I filmed... it was really scary!"

[We are shown a fragment of what she filmed: a circularly shaped purple
light, very out of focus, with several yellow stripes running diagonally
from left to right across it]

"It was so much so, that I hid behind my curtain... And I thought,
well... I can see _them_ up there... They can see _me_..."

Now the actor continues reading from Pope's book:

"What sort of people _do_ submit UFO reports?  Most of them, and this is
what made their story so convincing to me, came tentatively,
embarrassed, and sorry for taking up my time."

We again switch to an interview with an eyewitness; this time a
middleaged man, sitting on a couch in his livingroom. The caption below
reads: "James Millen, UFO Witness, Dorset"

"My wife and I were camping in Dorset, and in the night I got up to go
to the toilet. It was 5 to 3 [2.55 am], and I went back to the tent, and
I noticed some lights in the sky.  I called my wife out to have a look.
And the next moment we were back in the tent.  And all I can recall is
being in a white, circular room with some tall and short figures dressed
in white. I checked my watch again... It was 25 to 6 [5.35 a.m.]  I have
no explanation what happened that 2 hours, 35 minutes...  We wrote to
the Ministry of Defence, and Nick Pope replied, asking for further

The book continues:

"I became the butt of MOD humour, when I was the UFO Desk Officer, but
could it be that somewhere within the cabinet's bowels' main building
there lurked more X-files?  If so, then where is this material?  Who has
it, and why are they keeping in under wraps?  Why was it kept from _me_
, when it could have been a crucial piece of the puzzle?"

[The actor closes Pope's book]

Now the actual interview by Newsnight presenter David Vine with Pope starts:

Nick Pope, what do you believe _now_ that you didn't believe 5 years ago?

[Caption below Pope reads: "Nick Pope, UFO Desk Officer, Ministry of
Defence, 1991-1994"]

Well, I came into the job as a sceptic, but I was convinced by the sheer
weight of evidence.  The sightings, the radar evidence... all that sort
of thing... that _some_ of these things that we see in the sky and call
UFO's are extraterrestrial in origin.

[Vine] Extraterrestrial what?   Craft?   With people in them?

Well, craft of some sort, certainly.  That's not to say they _all_
are... Of course most of them have conventional explanations, but after
rigourous investigation we find that 5 or 10 percent absolutely defy
_any_ conventional explanation, and these ones, yes... It does look as
if they may be some sort of craft from elsewhere...

Well, what do you think is going on?  What do you think these 'people'
and these craft are doing?

That's the difficult question.  It's very difficult to say because
although the evidence is convincing, it's often contradictory.  Some
people say that it bears the hallmarks of some sort of reconnaissance
exercise.  Certainly these sightings have been going on for many many
years... er... Lots of reliable witnesses; many military personnel
sighting them, but yet no open outright contact.  So that does tend to
suggest that they are trying to keep themselves hidden.

What was it about your own role in the Ministry of Defence that made you
more certain that this was going on?  Was there anything there that...
that you found out that gave rise to your conviction that these craft
and these extraterrestrial people existed?

Well, yes... Of course, working in the Ministry of Defence, I had access
to all sorts of inside data, and when I was conducting my investigations
I would liaise with Royal Airforce officers... I could impound radar
tapes, I could go and speak to witnesses... I could speak to the Royal
Observatory at Greenwich... I could make all sorts of checks to try and
get to the bottom of sightings.  Checks which really civilian UFO
researchers were not able to make...

But... If you believed these...  Obvious reports that were coming out
from the people you talked to, why did nobody else come out and say the
same thing?  Why are you the only Defence officer that's come out saying

Well... I think it's all to do with people's personal prejudices.
You've only got to _mention_ the phrase UFO, and a lot of people just
switch off. They think this is not an issue that they wish to be
associated with.  But certainly over the years the evidence is
undeniable.  I suspect there are more people...

Wel _is_ it?  You see, Mr. Pope... because, I mean..  The Ministry of
Defence gave us a statement tonight saying.. er... "As far as we know no
one has _ever_ established any defence signifficance in any UFO
sighting"... which... of course is a particular point the Ministry of
Defence _would_ make, but.. "Nor has anyone," they say, "provided
evidence to make us believe that any alien craft has ever penetrated
British airspace."

Well I think it's _absolutely_ clear that structured craft of unknown
origin _have_ and _continue_ to penetrate the U.K. air defence region.
This has happened on a number of occasions.  We've had radar evidence...
On some occasions we've had aircraft scrambled...  And it seems to me
that, er...  alltough we necessarily....  we can't absolutely say what
these things are...  But given that they _are_ penetrating our air
defenses, we _have_ to say that there's a potential threat, until we can
say that... er...  there is _no_ threat from...

But... But nobody else believes this inside the Ministry except you,
according to the Ministry...

Well... that's a difficult one, I...

Give.. Give us an example.  Take one example of some _event_ which, with
your inside knowledge, you can persuade us, really was an unidentified
flying object... something from outerspace...

In March of 1993 we had a case where numerous RAF personnel and police
officers reported a craft over Britain.  It was seen by the guard patrol
af RAF Shawbury... er.. sorry, RAF Cosford... Then it was seen by the
Meteorological Officer at RAF Shawbury.  It was firing a beam of light
down at the countryside... It was emitting a low hum.  This was _not_
some aircraft light seen from an unusual angle.  This was a _craft_!  It
had got through our air defenses, nad that _must_ be a matter of Defence

What...  You go much further in your book, of course, than say you
believe that these craft exist... You say "I believe there's a war going
on.  A one-sided war so secret we aren't even aware it's happening.  If
any of these incidents can be attributed to an alien presence, then that
presence is carrying out crimes against humanity."  What do you mean by

Well... Certainly over the years there have been a number of cases of
pilots who have been called upon to intercept UFO's... er... One of
those was killed.  That was in America in the late 40's.  There was a
pilot who disappeared after an encounter with a UFO that was, er...
recorded on Air Traffic Control tapes.  He closed on the craft.  He said
"this craft is right on top of me, and it's ot an aircraft."  Then the
plane crashed.

[Vine, running out of time, trying to close off]
And... and.. very briefly... Do you believe there's some kind of... I
mean you elude in many parts of your book to some cover-up going on?  Is
the Ministry of Defence hiding information?

Not in Britain...  I think the problem is the opposite.  We know too

Thank you very much indeed.. er... Mr. Pope Well now.. A quick look at
tomorrow's news headlines.. (etc)


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