SCOTLAND saw a massive increase in UFO sightings in the year the Ministry of Defence axed their supernatural investigations department.
New figures released under Freedom of Information Act have shown that reported sightings increased three-fold in the year that the MoD shut down its UFO hotline.
Last year 28 were reported to the MoD while just 10 were received in 2008 and nine the year before.
The calls varied from incidents with obvious explanations – an airborne object near Edinburgh Airport, travelling “at the speed of an airliner” – to more mysterious ones.
Among the calls that defence staff received last year include a man reporting a “bright orange bulb” in the sky in East Kilbride, that “came towards him like a tornado, then disappeared”.
Another vague report was of a “bright orange light approached at low level… then it turned red”.
The MoD have now ceased recording sightings after keeping their UFO department running since the 1950s.
Until the end of 2009 members of the public could phone a hotline or email sightings of UFOs to defence staff to be investigated.
Malcolm Robinson, who founded the Scottish organisation Strange Paranormal Investigations, said: “I’m sad they’ve closed the desk. It’s up to people like myself and my colleagues in Scotland to continue what is going on.”
The department was set up in the 1950’s and recorded 11,000 sightings in the 60 years it operated the service.
Nick Pope, who headed up the £50,000-a-year department from 1991 to 1994, criticised the decision to close it, saying: “We’re leaving ourselves wide open to terrorist attack.”
“UFO sightings are at an all time high. There has been no announcement in Parliament and no public consultation.”
A statement from the Ministry of Defence said: “The MOD has no opinion on the existence or otherwise of extra-terrestrial life. However, in over fifty years, no UFO report has revealed any evidence of a potential threat to the United Kingdom.
“There is no Defence benefit in such investigation and it would be an inappropriate use of defence resources.
“Furthermore, responding to reported UFO sightings diverts MOD resources from tasks that are relevant to Defence.”