Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Saucers and Special Branch
Certain people in Ufology laughed and were highly skeptical when, in 2006, I wrote a book called On the Trail of the Saucer Spies, in which I mentioned how a retired British police source told me that, back in the 1990s, the British Police Force's Special Branch opened files on two UFO researchers in the UK, namely Matthew Williams and Robin Cole.
Those same certain people should have kept their mouths firmly shut.
The files on Cole and Williams (or, rather, some of the files; others still remain classified to this day) were finally officially released in 2012, showing that Special Branch was indeed watching both men, demonstrating that the data provided to me years ago was accurate.
When, in 2012, the documents were declassified, the National Archives prepared the following statement concerning their contents:
"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 failed to note the names of the people in question, I will. They were, of course, Cole and Williams - as I had been told during the course of writing On the Trail of the Saucer Spies.
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 good sense to clandestinely and quickly 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.
Now we see further evidence of Special Branch involvement in the UFO subject.
Not in terms of what UFOs are (or are not), but in relation to things that, in many ways, are far more interesting, thought-provoking, and alternative.
This was precisely the reason for the Cole/Williams surveillance issue too - namely, Special Branch's concerns that both the UFO controversy and the people that investigate it could be used as tools of manipulation by hostile groups with controversial, political agendas.