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From a December 2008 email by the last UFO desk officer of the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence, included in files released in July by the British National Archives. The names of both the desk officer and the recipient were redacted. The UFO desk was closed in 2009.

In the event that I win the lottery over Christmas or walk under a bus, I thought it would be helpful if I gave you some details about the role of the UFO desk.

The MoD position on extraterrestrials is quite clear. We know of no evidence to confirm the existence of aliens, etc., or if they have visited the earth. However, since the universe is a very large place and mankind has explored only a very small corner of it, we cannot rule out the existence of intelligent life on other planets.

From time to time, we may receive a report from aircrew, air-traffic control, or the police that, in our judgment, may deserve a closer look. The term “investigation” tends to suggest that there are top-secret teams of specialist scientists scurrying around the country in a real-life version of The X-Files. I am sure it will come as no surprise to you that this is a total fiction. It is not unusual to get requests for our “file” on a specific incident. We do not keep separate files, and in any case, the documentation is likely limited to a few emails.

The MoD tries to keep clear of any affiliation to any particular lobby or individual, since proactive engagement with UFO groups could simply serve to perpetuate the suspicion that the MoD has a deeper interest in the subject than it actually has. In particular, we do not wish to be drawn into arguments between individuals, which can be quite vitriolic and about which there is no defense interest.

The MoD does not have any experts in UFOs (by which most people that contact us really mean alien spaceships). The closest we have to the post of “UFO Expert” is probably my own, but this has always been a generalist, non-technical post. While I have naturally built up some degree of knowledge of various UFO cases as part of my tenure, I often find the best source of information is simply to google the Internet.

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October 2012

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