Newsnight host David Vine: "Now, for the first time, a Ministry of Defence insider is about to talk publicly about the secret world of UFO sightings. Nick Pope spent four years as the MOD's UFO watcher. His book about his experiences, 'Open Skies, Closed Minds,' is published next month, and I'll be speaking to Nick Pope in his first television interview in just a moment. But first we've asked an actor to read some excerpts from his book."
Actor reads from Pope's text: "Until 1991 I was generally sceptical about the paranormal. I didn't believe in UFO's, and anyway, paranormal experiences only happened to weirdos, didn't they? My conversion was a slow one, but no less extraordinary for that. It is that some UFO sightings are probably extra-terrestrial in origin. It is not that I have gone mad. Not that I've made a blind leap of faith, but the conclusion I have drawn is the only one borne out by the evidence...
Actor continues reading: "What sort of people do submit UFO reports? Most of them, and this is what made their story so convincing to me, came tentatively, embarrassed, and sorry for taking up my time."
Scene switches to an eyewitness, a middle-aged man, sitting on a couch in his livingroom. The caption below reads: "James Millen, UFO Witness, Dorset"
Millen speaks: "My wife and I were camping in Dorset, and in the night I got up to go to the toilet. It was 5 to 3 [2:55 am], and I went back to the tent, and I noticed some lights in the sky. I called my wife out to have a look. And the next moment we were back in the tent. And all I can recall is being in a white, circular room with some tall and short figures dressed in white. I checked my watch again... It was 25 to 6 [5:35 a.m.]. I have no explanation what happened that 2 hours, 35 minutes... We wrote to the Ministry of Defence, and Nick Pope replied, asking for further information."
Actor continues reading from Pope's book: "I became the butt of MOD humour, when I was the UFO Desk Officer, but could it be that somewhere within the cabinet's bowels' main building there lurked more X-files? If so, then where is this material? Who has it, and why are they keeping in under wraps? Why was it kept from ME, when it could have been a crucial piece of the puzzle?"
The actor closes Pope's book, and Newsnight host David Vine begins to interview Pope.
Vine: "Nick Pope, what do you believe now that you didn't believe 5 years ago?"
Pope: "Well, I came into the job as a sceptic, but I was convinced by the sheer weight of evidence. The sightings, the radar evidence... all that sort of thing... that SOME of these things that we see in the sky and call UFO's are extraterrestrial in origin."
Vine: "Extraterrestrial what? Craft? With people in them?"
Pope: "Well, craft of some sort, certainly. That's not to say they ALL are... Of course most of them have conventional explanations, but after rigourous investigation we find that 5 or 10 percent absolutely defy ANY conventional explanation, and these ones, yes... It does look as if they may be some sort of craft from elsewhere."
Vine: "Well, what do you think is going on? What do you think these 'people' and these craft are doing?"
Pope: "That's the difficult question. It's very difficult to say because although the evidence is convincing, it's often contradictory. Some people say that it bears the hallmarks of some sort of reconnaissance exercise. Certainly these sightings have been going on for many, many years... er... Lots of reliable witnesses; many military personnel sighting them, but yet no open outright contact. So that does tend to suggest that they are trying to keep themselves hidden."
Vine: "What was it about your own role in the Ministry of Defence that made you more certain that this was going on? Was there anything there that you found out that gave rise to your conviction that these craft and these extraterrestrial people existed?"
Pope: "Well, yes... Of course, working in the Ministry of Defence, I had access to all sorts of inside data, and when I was conducting my investigations I would liaise with Royal Airforce officers... I could impound radar tapes, I could go and speak to witnesses... I could speak to the Royal Observatory at Greenwich... I could make all sorts of checks to try and get to the bottom of sightings. Checks which really civilian UFO researchers were not able to make..."
Vine: "But... If you believed these... reports that were coming out from the people you talked to, why did nobody else come out and say the same thing? Why are you the only Defence officer that's come out saying this?"
Pope: "Well... I think it's all to do with people's personal prejudices. You've only got to MENTION the phrase UFO, and a lot of people just switch off. They think this is not an issue that they wish to be associated with. But certainly over the years the evidence is undeniable. I suspect there are more people..."
Vine: "Well IS it? You see, Mr. Pope... because, I mean.. The Ministry of Defence gave us a statement tonight saying, 'As far as we know no one has EVER established any defence significance in any UFO sighting'... which of course is a particular point the Ministry of Defence WOULD make, but.. 'Nor has anyone,' they say, 'provided evidence to make us believe that any alien craft has ever penetrated British airspace.'"
Pope: "Well, I think it's absolutely clear that structured craft of unknown origin HAVE and CONTINUE to penetrate the U.K. air defence region. This has happened on a number of occasions. We've had radar evidence... On some occasions we've had aircraft scrambled... And it seems to me that, although we necessarily.... we can't absolutely say what these things are... But given that they ARE penetrating our air defenses, we HAVE to say that there's a potential threat, until we can say that... er... there is NO threat from..."
Vine: "But... But nobody else believes this inside the Ministry except you, according to the Ministry..."
Pope: "Well... that's a difficult one, I..."
Vine: "Give us an example. Take one example of some event which, with your inside knowledge, you can persuade us, really was an unidentified flying object... something from outer space..."
Pope: "In March of 1993 we had a case where numerous RAF personnel and police officers reported a craft over Britain. It was seen by the guard patrol at RAF Cosford... Then it was seen by the Meteorological Officer at RAF Shawbury. It was firing a beam of light down at the countryside... It was emitting a low hum. This was NOT some aircraft light seen from an unusual angle. This was a CRAFT! It had got through our air defenses. Now that MUST be a matter of Defence significance!"
Vine: "You go much further in your book, of course, than say you believe that these craft exist... You say, 'I believe there's a war going on. A one-sided war so secret we aren't even aware it's happening. If any of these incidents can be attributed to an alien presence, then that presence is carrying out crimes against humanity.' What do you mean by that?"
Pope: "Well... Certainly over the years there have been a number of cases of pilots who have been called upon to intercept UFO's... One of those was killed. That was in America in the late 40's." [This is a reference to the famous case of Captain Thomas Mantell, who died in January 1948 while pursuing a UFO near Godman AFB in Kentucky. - ed.]
Vine (running out of time): "And... very briefly... Do you believe there's some kind of... I mean you elude in many parts of your book to some cover-up going on? Is the Ministry of Defence hiding information?"
Pope: "Not in Britain... I think the problem is the opposite. We know too little!"
Vine: "Thank you very much indeed, Mr. Pope." [cut away]
[CNI News comments: It seems likely that Nick Pope feels obliged to maintain a certain discretion in how he talks about the British Defence establishment, for whom he still works. Behind the words of this interview, there seems to be an unspoken accusation. When Mr. Vine asked Pope: "But nobody else believes this inside the Ministry except you, according to the Ministry..." -- and Pope replied, "Well... that's a difficult one..." -- CNI News believes he would have liked to say, "Well, you see, they're all either totally ignorant or lying through their teeth." Indeed, Admiral of the Fleet (ret.) Lord Hill-Norton, one of the highest-ranking military men in British history, has stated with absolute conviction that UFOs do pose a major challenge to national defense. Pope is undoubtedly treading a delicate line as the release date of his book approaches.]
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