Files de-classified and released by the National Archives reveal the reasons behind the shutdown of the Ministry of Defence's (MoD) UFO desk and hotline in 2009. According to government notes, the ministry believed the division served "no defence purpose" and was a waste of resources.

Another apparent reason for withdrawing official aid to investigation of reported alien activities on Earth is that such operations took staff away from "more valuable defence-related activities", a Sky news report said.

As many as 643 sightings were reported in 2009, the second highest number since official records opened in 1978. That year, 750 sightings were reported. The nature and content of these reports included alleged alien abductions and contact with extraterrestrial beings.

However, the Royal Air Force's (RAF) Air Command told then defence minister Bob Ainsworth that there was no credible proof to "suggest an extra-terrestrial presence or military threat to the UK".

Rendlesham Incident

Predictably, a number of UFO enthusiasts, activists and scientists responded harshly, accusing the government of conspiracies. Letters like this one, received on 25 August, 2008, show members of the public had strong feelings about the closure.

The sender, whose identity was blacked out, wrote: "So the MOD heard and considered testimony from head of base security at the time Jim Penniston? I know Jim Penniston, and he walked up to and touched the triangular shaped black UFO... The MOD is still lying about this incident..."

The abovementioned letter referred to the Rendlesham Forest incident of December, 1980, when United States Air Force (USAF) patrolmen spotted and object they described as "metallic in appearance and triangular in shape, approx. 2-3 meters across the base... it illuminated the entire forest with a white light, and had a pulsing red light on top and a bank(s) of blue lights underneath".

In response, the MoD wrote, the very next day, saying: "... all available substantiated evidence was looked at... the judgement was that there was no indication that a breach of the United Kingdom's air defences occurred on the nights in question... other than an obligation to respond to questions from the public, the MoD has no further interest in the subject".

View from Inside the MoD

"These documents don't resolve the UFO mystery, but they certainly show how the phenomenon was just as intriguing to the Government as it is to the public." Nick Pope, an ex-employee of the UFO desk of the MoD said.

"These are the real-life X-Files. Most UFO sightings had conventional explanations, but a small percentage remained unexplained. These included cases where UFOs were seen by police officers, chased by pilots and tracked on radar," he continued.

Pope's cautious stance was echoed by UFO author Dr David Clarke who, in a note accompanying the release of the files, said:

"What you get in these files are lots of amusing letters by people, people who believe they have been abducted by aliens, people who are getting telepathic messages from aliens. What you also get in these files is, you get people reporting things, unusual phenomena."

Meanwhile, Pope recently spoke on sightings in Berkshire, calling them "one of the best". The Bershire UFO is one of several in recent weeks. In April, a woman in Bromley, Kent photographed an UFO. There was also a UFO report from London - an object flew past during Russia Today news recording earlier this month.