LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Men in black, Mork and Mindy, shining lights in the sky and more than 20 years of other alien visitations and bizarre sightings recorded in Britain's own "X-Files" were made available online to the public on Thursday.
The nearly 9,000 pages of UFO-related documents, drawings, letters and parliamentary questions recorded by Britain's Ministry of Defence (MoD) from 1985 to 2007 are the eighth batch of UFO files to be released to the National Archives (www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ufos).
The files are available to view for free online for one month and include the tale of one woman and her daughter from the leafy London neighborhood of East Dulwich who said they saw lights in a worm shape, wriggling around in the sky before being visited by two men in space suits and dark glasses early one chilly January morning in 2003.
The men, who carried a clicking transmitter, introduced themselves as Mork and Mindy (ironically also the name of a hit U.S. television comedy in the late 1970s and early 80s about an alien who lives on Earth). The beings warned the woman not to look at the shapes in the sky because of possible radiation and offered to wash her eyes with a solution.
After enquiring about her star sign, they left.
Although entertaining, the files may prove a blow to conspiracy theorists who believe the government is withholding information about extra-terrestrial visitors.
"Lots of people continue to believe that the release of these files is just a whitewash and the government is concealing the fact that we are not alone in the universe," David Clarke, National Archives consultant and Senior Lecturer in Journalism at Sheffield Hallam University told Reuters.
"There is nothing you can do to disprove this -- no matter how many files are released, if people don't see what they want in the files, they don't believe it's the truth," he said.
In one 1995 memo, MoD officials admit that "higher priorities" had prevented a full-scale study of the thousands of UFO reports they had received since World War Two and state that the public perception of the MoD's DI55 branch as a defender of the Earth from an alien menace was "light years from the truth."
"The files suggest that the UK government knows as much as we do about alien visitors and has no evidence to suggest we have ever been visited, despite the interest it has taken in sightings over the years. In my view this is the truth, but will people believe it?" Clarke said.
Nevertheless, the files document enough close encounters to whet the appetite of any Mulder and Scully fan. The files even contain a memo in which Winston Churchill is reported to have been interested in sightings of UFOs above Washington in 1952.
Several of the UFO reports are handwritten letters to the MoD from members of the public who are adamant about the existence of what they have seen.
"As God is my witness it's true and you should take note of it because, who knows, one day they might come in their hundreds," warns one man, who sighted a large, silent object with a bright orange light lift off from the fields near his home in Wales in 2002.
In the same year another man reported seeing six spherical objects speeding around in the night sky as he and his son were going to a fish and chip shop in the northern English city of Lancaster.
Other files reveal that experts from the Defence Geographic and Imagery Intelligence Agency (DGIA) were called upon to examine a photograph of a "flying saucer" taken in 2004 outside a town hall in central England but could not reach any "definitive conclusions" on the contents of the picture.
"This batch of files is certainly the most interesting that's been released so far because we get to see some of the policy files related to the government's handling of UFO reports," Clarke said.
"As for the sightings in the files, they document the odd things that people have always seen in sky. Ultimately unidentified flying objects are just that -- unidentified. They could have been caused by anything."
(Edited by Paul Casciato)