Friday, July 13, 2012
On The Trail Of The Saucer Spies
One of the most intriguing disclosures contained in the newly-surfaced Ministry of Defense files on UFOs is the reference to people in the UK-based UFO research field who had been secretly watched by officialdom.
The National Archive summarizes this information as follows:
"File DEFE 24/1984/1 (p294) contains a 1996 Parliamentary Question from Martin Redmond MP asking on how many occasions MI6 and GCHQ have monitored UFO investigations. This was interpreted to mean 'have the agencies been keeping watch on UFOlogists.' A background briefing says 'neither agency in fact undertakes such activity, though GCHQ cannot rule out the possibility' they had monitored 'in other contexts individuals who have made a study of UFOs'. The MP was told the government do not comment on the intelligence and security agencies (p298). File DEFE 24/1987/1 (p262-65) reveals that in 1997 Special Branch took an interest in a UFOlogist who became obsessed with rumours of a secret UFO facility beneath RAF Rudloe Manor in Wiltshire. The base had become known as the British equivalent of the secret US military airbase 'Area 51' among conspiracy theorists. An internal note said 'Special Branch…do not believe he poses a specific threat to security, but they are alert to the risk that others may use him as a conduit for their activities.'"
Well, since the summary fails to note the names of the people in question, I will.
Back in 1997, Robin Cole, of Cheltenham, England - the home to GCHQ (the Government Communications Headquarters) - wrote a fascinating report on the agency's involvement in the UFO phenomenon. And, for those who may not be aware, GCHQ is the UK equivalent of the US National Security Agency.
After Cole's report was published, he was visited by two representatives of the UK's Special Branch. And since the pair announced their visit in advance (via a phone-call), Robin had the sense to clandestinely set up his tape-recorder in his living-room and taped the entire conversation, much of which revolved around Special Branch's interest in a UFO researcher and Crop Circle maker named Matthew Williams - who just happens to be the "UFOlogist who became obsessed" with RAF Rudloe Manor, as referenced by National Archives staff above. And that's Matt below, photographed by me in Vegas four or five years ago:
I wrote extensively about the very (and I do mean VERY) weird affair of Cole and Williams in my 2006 book, On the Trail of the Saucer Spies, including the Special Branch saga as it related to both Matt and Robin.
It's an extremely strange story filled with phone and house surveillance, possibly illegal entry into someone's home, the Royal Air Force's Provost and Security Services, and much, much more.
At the time the book was published, certain people in Ufology said it was laughable to think that Special Branch and GCHQ might be involved in watching UFO researchers (even tangentially), but I'm very pleased to see that six years after On the Trail of the Saucer Spies was written, the files finally demonstrate the story was correct.
And Matt and Robin were far from alone in being watched - and that goes for UFO researchers on both sides of the Atlantic...