The Condign Report
For decades, the British government had treated the UFO subject dismissively, routinely responding to public enquiries with the standard line that any apparent air anomalies had been judged to be of “no defence significance”.
In general, the government gave the impression of being utterly uninterested in UFOs. In 2005, however, it was discovered that, in the late 1990s, the British government had commissioned a secret study of the UFO phenomenon. Its goal was to determine whether UFOs - or UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) as the British government prefers to refer to them - represented any threat to the United Kingdom or whether anything of potential military significance could be learned from a study of them.
The study was contracted out to an external defence contractor whose identity remains unknown. With work starting in 1996, the project had been completed by the end of 2000. Its final report, entitled The Condign Report, was circulated among a select group of top Ministry of Defence staff, but no further. It was classified secret and stamped “UK EYES ONLY”.
The first part of the secret project involved computerising the MOD’s large database of UFO sightings, categorising them in various ways with the goal of eventually being able to sift through the mass of reports and see statistical patterns. Governmental responses to the phenomenon in other countries were also carefully considered.
The Condign Report – Read it for YourselfAlthough the Condign Report was originally classified Secret, thanks to the intrepid work of some British UFO researchers, the report has now been released to the public. It seems the researchers, derisively dubbed “UFO Spotters” by one civil servant in an internal memo which has also been released, made relentless use of the UK’s new Freedom of Information legislation to bombard the MOD with requests. In the end, it was decided that so much civil service time was being taken up with handling them that it was easier just to release the whole thing.
Although parts of it have been redacted, it does contain a wealth of fascinating detail – including photographs of apparent UFOs - in what is a broad overview of the phenomenon. One particularly interesting observation in the report is that “there is evidence that civil airline crews are seeing far more than they are reporting for fear of ridicule or the potential effect on company business”.
The Condign Report - AssessmentsPerhaps predictably, the Condign Report concludes that there is no evidence that UFOs represent signs of an extra-terrestrial presence on Earth. Instead, it concludes, UFO sightings probably stem from the mis-identification of man-made objects and mysterious weather effects known as “atmospheric plasmas”.
The methodology of the report has been criticised by UFO researchers. They point out that it was largely based on existing written reports of sightings and that no new interviewing of witnesses took place. In addition, the timescale for the project was rather short, making a truly in-depth study impossible.