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Ministry of Defense UFO files release - 03 March 2011

The unexplained brings incredible fascination to us all. What are those things that go bump in the night? And is that bright light in the sky really a passing jet plane?

UFO files released tomorrow (Thursday) by The National Archives reveal how the UFO phenomenon was discussed at the highest level of government and Security Services worldwide including at the United Nations, the US Central Intelligence Agency and was even the subject of a debate in the House of Lords.

The previously classified files show how in January 1979, during the peak of the 'Winter of Discontent', in addition to discussions on trade union strikes, the House of Lords held a debate of the subject of UFOs - the only full debate on UFOs to ever be held in British Parliament.

The files also reveal that in December 1977 discussions on UFOs were held at the United Nations and the UK Government had to use its influence to talk down a call by Sir Eric Gairy, the President of Grenada, for a UN agency to conduct research into UFO sightings. Gairy withdrew his proposal eventually but continued his campaign for a full UN debate on UFOs, calling on the UN General Assembly to make 1978 "the year of the UFO".

These newly-released files also detail in full the Freedom of Information requests and letters from "persistent enquirers" that led to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) opening the UFO files for the first time in history.

One report contained in the files describes a 'War of the Worlds' incident in 1967 that, for a few hours at least, was treated as a potentially real "alien invasion" of the UK. The files show how the RAF were flooded with calls from the public reporting six small "flying saucers" that had been discovered in locations in a perfect line across Southern England from the Isle of Sheppey to the Bristol Channel. Four police forces, bomb disposal units, the army and the MoD's intelligence branch were all mobilised, before it emerged the saucers were a 'rag-day' hoax by engineering students from Farnborough Technical College.

The 35 files released today mark the largest release of documents so far by The National Archives. Covering the years 2000-2005, the files contain over 8,500 pages of UFO sightings and reports, colour photographs and drawings, RAF investigations, unusual radar detections, parliamentary briefings and - for the first time - documents on the government's policy on UFOs.

The policy files show the discussions and correspondence that led to a change in government policy on UFOs and the formation of a UFO sighting hotline. Details in the files show how the workload of the UFO desk at MoD increased by 50 per cent during 1996-1997, due to media interest in the subject around the 50th anniversary of the Roswell incident.

Other highlights from the files include:

· Claims that the Home Office had emergency procedures for dealing with landed and crashed satellites and UFOs

· 15 unidentified aircraft were detected on radar approaching the UK between January-July 2001 in the months leading up to 9/11. The MoD received just one UFO report (with no radar corroboration) on 11 September itself.

· Details on RAF interception policy during the Cold War when aircraft were scrambled on a daily basis to intercept Warsaw Pact aircraft approaching the UK coast.

· US policy files on UFOs including CIA papers discussing the use of UFO reports for "psychological warfare".

· An alleged UFO sighting by crew of HMS Manchester off the coast of Norway and how the logbook recording the incident could not be recovered.

· A report from a man who believed he may have been abducted by aliens after seeing an unusual aircraft one evening and experiencing a period of missing time.