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David Vine

 BBC 2, 'Newsnight', Friday, May 24, 1996,  22.30-23.15, British Time
 [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:
 "Until 1991 I was generally sceptical about the paranormal. I didn't
 believe in UFO's, and anyway, paranormal experiences only happened to
 weirdoes, 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.
 What did happen at Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk?  There have been some
 quite extraordinary attempts to explain away the events.  In 1980 two
 security patrolmen on their tour of Woodbridge Airbase saw bright lights
 in the forest.  The object was no aircraft.  They encountered a metallic
 triangular craft unlike anything they had ever seen before.  I believe
 the Ministry of Defence squandered a major opportunity by not
 investigating the incident in detail at the time.  The trail has now
 gone cold."
 [Actor turns the page]
 "UFOcal is the name given to a place where more UFO events than chance
 should allow seem to occur.  Bonnybridge in Scotland has a good claim to
 this title.  Some 8,000 reports were made by local inhabitants.   It is
 a classic example of the way the reporting system fails that only two or
 three of these _ever_ reached my desk."
 The scene now switches to an interview with an elderly woman, standing
 outside, in front of her house. The caption below reads: "Margaret Ross,
 UFO Witness, Bonnybridge"
 "My husband and I were going to bed one Saturday evening, and I happened
 to look out of the window.  It was the bedroom window, which is this
 one, up here (she points).  And er... I saw this really bright light in
 the sky, and I thought...  So I decided to film this, so I picked up my
 cine-camera (she holds up a video camera), and er... started filming.
 And what I filmed... it was really scary!"
 [We are shown a fragment of what she filmed: a circularly shaped purple
 light, very out of focus, with several yellow stripes running diagonally
 from left to right across it]
 "It was so much so, that I hid behind my curtain... And I thought,
 well... I can see _them_ up there... They can see _me_..."
 Now the actor continues reading from Pope's book:
 "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."
 We again switch to an interview with an eyewitness; this time a
 middleaged man, sitting on a couch in his livingroom. The caption below
 reads: "James Millen, UFO Witness, Dorset"
 "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
 The book continues:
 "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]
 Now the actual interview by Newsnight presenter David Vine with Pope starts:
 Nick Pope, what do you believe _now_ that you didn't believe 5 years ago?
 [Caption below Pope reads: "Nick Pope, UFO Desk Officer, Ministry of
 Defence, 1991-1994"]
 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?
 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...
 Well, what do you think is going on?  What do you think these 'people'
 and these craft are doing?
 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.
 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...
 that you found out that gave rise to your conviction that these craft
 and these extraterrestrial people existed?
 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...
 But... If you believed these...  Obvious 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
 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...
 Wel _is_ it?  You see, Mr. Pope... because, I mean..  The Ministry of
 Defence gave us a statement tonight saying.. er... "As far as we know no
 one has _ever_ established any defence signifficance 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."
 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, er...  alltough 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...
 But... But nobody else believes this inside the Ministry except you,
 according to the Ministry...
 Well... that's a difficult one, I...
 Give.. 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 outerspace...
 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
 af RAF Shawbury... er.. sorry, 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, nad that _must_ be a matter of Defence
 What...  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
 Well... Certainly over the years there have been a number of cases of
 pilots who have been called upon to intercept UFO's... er... One of
 those was killed.  That was in America in the late 40's.  There was a
 pilot who disappeared after an encounter with a UFO that was, er...
 recorded on Air Traffic Control tapes.  He closed on the craft.  He said
 "this craft is right on top of me, and it's ot an aircraft."  Then the
 plane crashed.
 [Vine, running out of time, trying to close off]
 And... 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?
 Not in Britain...  I think the problem is the opposite.  We know too
 Thank you very much indeed.. er... Mr. Pope Well now.. A quick look at
 tomorrow's news headlines.. (etc)

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