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It is official at last: Britain is not at risk from unidentified flying objects.
Those who have long feared an invasion from Mars or further afield can relax – at least, that is, if they believe the Ministry of Defence.
An end has been ordered to all official investigations of Unidentified Flying Objects, or UFOs, after the ministry ruled they do not pose a threat to the nation’s security.
It comes as the head of UK Air Traffic Control admitted the country is visited by around one unidentified flying object a month.
Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about the existence of UFOs, Mr Deakin confirmed they were still being seen by his staff.
He said: “Occasionally there are objects identified that do not conform to normal traffic patterns. It does not occupy a huge amount of my time. There are approximately one a month.”
Yet despite this, the MoD insists it will no longer investigate UFO sightings.
The ruling came after the careful collation over the years of reports of strange lights in the skies, odd noises and apparent close encounters.
The move to end all investigation was disclosed after a dedicated hotline for UFO sightings was discontinued for cost grounds, and the “UFO desk”, which cost £44,000 a year was also removed.
Now officials say that any UFO investigation would divert valuable resources and instead a sophisticated network of radar infrastructure and anti-ballistic missile systems to monitor British airspace will spot any genuine threat.
An MoD spokesman said: “In over fifty years no UFO report revealed any evidence of a potential threat to the United Kingdom.
“The MoD had no specific capability for identifying the nature of such sightings and there would be no benefit in such an investigation. Furthermore, responding to reported UFO sightings diverted MOD resources from tasks that were more relevant to defence.”
The abandonment of the UFO hotline and dedicated desk officer in 2009 had already caused concern among those who believe in the phenomena.
Now the decision to abandon investigations entirely has frustrated some members of the public convinced they have glimpsed the extraterrestrial – and those who are simply unsure of what they have seen.
Jane Randall, a housewife from Woking, Surrey, captured a strange looking object in the skies above Silbury Hill in Wiltshire when she took a photograph using her mobile phone while taking part in a field trip to learn about the archaeology in the area.
She said: “I didn’t see anything at the time, nor did the ten people I was with, but when I looked back over the photos there were two pictures a second apart with this strange conical shape hovering behind the hill.
“The pictures I took either side of this didn’t have any mark on them so I don’t think it could have been dust on the lens.
“I’m just an ordinary person, but thought I should report it to someone so they could take a look. When I phoned the police, they said it was not a police matter and I spoke to someone at the RAF who said they did not investigate UFOs any more.”
Nick Pope, who ran the MoD’s UFO desk from 1991 to 1994 and now researches UFO sightings privately, said: “One of the problems was that an increasing number of the reports the MoD was getting were low quality.
“When someone has a photograph though, that should be considered to be a different situation. The MoD has the personnel and equipment to very quickly analyse an image to tell whether it has been altered and identify what an object might be.
“A lot of ordinary members of the public feel it is there duty to report anything out of the ordinary.
“I get a lot of people contacting me now about sightings and it is frustrating that there is no where official that they can report them – it has become a black hole.”