How to Get UFO Files from the Government
Quite a few people think that the government must be hiding a treasure trove of secrets about UFOs. Some even believe the government has been conspiring with the aliens for decades. Wouldn’t it be great, then, if you could get access to the British government’s X-Files? Well, actually you can.
Not everyone is aware of it, but Britain now has a Freedom of Information (FOI) act. Modelled broadly on the American act of the same name, it grants the public a wide-ranging access to government documents.
Where do you Request UFO Documents?So you want to request the government’s UFO documents, but how do you know where they will be kept? Many UFO sightings are reported initially to the police, but the police usually just pass them on to the Ministry of Defence. The MOD does have a “UFO desk”. We know this from the many books and articles written by Nick Pope, who used to occupy it himself. The MOD then is the best place to make your enquiry. As well as the standard “UFO desk”, it has come to light that some special UFO investigations have been carried out in Britain by a secret intelligence department called DI55 (Defence Intelligence 55).
Some government UFO files have already been made available online, so you won’t need to request them specifically. If you’re interested in a high-profile UFO incident, such as Rendlesham, for example, there’s a good chance the documents will already have been published on the web, simply because the MOD received so many repeat requests for them that they thought putting them online would save them a lot of bother. Always check the MOD website first, therefore, before submitting a request.
If you have reason to suspect that some other public body will have documents pertaining to UFOs, then you should feel free to make a request there too. Major departments like the MOD will have staff specifically assigned to dealing with document requests from the public. Smaller public bodies may not. In fact, many staff in the more minor public bodies, such as departments of your local council for example, may not even be aware of their obligations under the Freedom of Information Act. It’s always worth invoking the name of the act in your document request therefore. Let them know you’ve got the law behind you in case they’re tempted to just throw it in the bin!
How to Request UFO Documents Under the Freedom of Information Act
- Under the act you can request information held on almost any medium (for example video or audio tape, not just paper) from almost any public body including central or local government, the police, even Quangos. It does not matter how old or new the information is.
- In England and Wales you should make the request in writing, either by letter, email or fax. In Scotland, the Freedom of Information act is slightly more expansive and permits even verbal requests.
- You can send the request to anyone who works for the government organisation in question. Most large public bodies will have a dedicated FOI office so you could send it there.
- Define the information you want as specifically as you can. If the request is too broad-ranging, the authority is entitled to refuse it.
- You can specify in what form you want to receive the information you requested, such as paper, CD-Rom, email or a phone call. The authority should do its best to comply with your request.
- You may be charged a fee for the information you receive but this will usually only reflect postage and photocopying costs. If there is to be a cost, you should be told of it in advance and asked if you want to proceed.
- The authority should normally reply with the information within 20 days.
- Some information, such as anything potentially damaging to national security, is exempt from Freedom of Information laws.
- If you’re not happy with any aspect of the authority’s handling of your request, you can appeal to an Information Commissioner who may be able to overrule the authority’s decision.
- It may be useful to know that British government documents usually avoid the term UFOs and use UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) instead!.