Nick Pope

Rory

Senior Member.
Not trying to debunk "Nick Pope" - but what was his job exactly? I've heard it described as anything from "head of the Ministry of Defence UFO department" to "glorified clerical officer who filed things" and there does seem to be a general impression that he overstates his role and importance.
 

DavidB66

Senior Member
It is stated in apparently genuine MoD papers that while he was working on UFO matters Nick Pope was an Executive Officer (EO). He was later promoted to Higher Executive Officer (HEO). Both grades would usually be considered responsible 'middle management' in level. Entry to the EO grade was traditionally direct from high school, with GCE A-level qualifications, but with the expansion of university-level education in the UK by 1985 (when Wiki says he joined the MoD) there would also have been a lot of university graduates in the grade.

EO and HEO jobs are supposed to require more than routine clerical work. There are (or were at that time) Clerical grades (Clerical Assistant and Clerical Officer) below the Executive grade. Anyone who described a particular EO as a 'glorified clerical officer who filed things' would be being deliberately insulting. (But not necessarily inaccurate.)

As to Nick Pope's actual responsibilities on UFO matters, they seem to have mainly involved answering enquiries from the public or the media about UFO reports, and briefing senior officers on the same. (Though direct contact with the media would usually be through the Press Office. Civil Servants distrust the media.) For example, if an MP writes to a Minister about a case, the Minister's Office would refer it down to the relevant Branch of the Department, and the head of the Branch would then allocate it to a 'section' or 'desk'. The head of the section would probably ask someone in his/her team for background information and a draft reply, which would then go back up the chain. An EO, however reliable, would seldom provide advice directly to Ministers. Preparing advice and replies would have involved researching previous papers and sometimes consulting other parts of MoD or the military. From David Clarke's book on 'The UFO Files' it seems clear that any in-depth investigation would be carried out elsewhere, by Defence Intelligence or scientific specialists. Nick Pope was part of a 'Secretariat' unit covering a wide range of topics, and Pope himself is said to have spent less than half his time on UFOs.

Pope's frequent description of himself as 'head of the UK Government's UFO Project' does 'overstate his role and importance'. There was no such 'project', at least before the commissioning of the 'Condign Report' in 1997. And Pope, as an EO, would have had no-one working for him other than a share of the clerical support staff. However, he was evidently diligent and competent at what he did. It is also clear that he was regarded by senior staff as a pain in the proverbial, especially after he started 'going public' with his views on UFOs. There is an apparently genuine 'Background Note' to Ministers on a PQ (Parliamentary Question), where he is described as having written several books 'some purportedly non-fictional'.

The above is written mainly from memory. I would like to find that Background Note, but on a quick search it eluded me.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Nick Pope bio on this literary agent's website:

Nick Pope worked for the British Government for 21 years, at the Ministry of Defence. In the course of his career he served in a wide variety of posts, but is best known for work that he did between 1991 and 1994 when he ran the MoD’s UFO project. He is recognised as one of the world’s leading authorities on the unexplained, conspiracy theories, sci-fi and fringe science.

http://www.andrewlownie.co.uk/authors/nick-pope
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Contrast with:

When Pope's first book was published (Open Skies, Closes Minds - in 1996) his publicist billed him as "the Real Fox Mulder." Well, no, he wasn't. Pope - when he was working in a branch of the MoD called Secretariat (Air Staff) 2a - told me that: "There is no specific 'UFO budget,' except the staff costs, i.e. around 20% of my salary, together with a tiny percentage of some other salaries, reflecting my line management's supervisory role."

https://mysteriousuniverse.org/2018/08/u-k-government-ufo-research-the-real-picture/
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https://documents.theblackvault.com/documents/ufos/UK/defe-24-2092-1-1.pdf
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Ah, this may be the definitive "official" word:

BACKGROUND NOTE

Norman Baker MP is the Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes Constituency, East Sussex and is the Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment and Rural Affairs Secretary. He has not written to the MOD about Unidentified Flying Objects before.

It is most likely that Mr Baker has asked this Question, having seen recent press articles in the Daily Mail, the Metro and on various internet websites in which Mr Nick Pope, a serving Civil Servant, has been widely quoted on the topic of the MoD's "UFO Project".

The MoD has never operated anything described as ''the UFO Project". In the early post World War 2 era, when there was a rise in the number of reports of"UFOs" from the public, a working party was set up at the instigation of Sir Henry Tizard to consider whether there was anything credible in such reports. The working party concluded in 1951 that" .. . no further investigation of reported mysterious aerial phenomena be undertaken unless and until some material evidence becomes available". In other words, there was insufficient evidence of the existence of UFOs to warrant any further official investigation. Nevertheless, the public continued to report such sightings, and it was decided that they would be handled by a branch responsible for Air Force issues, solely with a view to determining whether any reports might indicate some threat to UK air defence. That remains the situation up to today, with approximately 100 reports being received each year.

Mr Pope at one time served as an EO (Band D) in the Secretariat Air Staff (the precursor of the Civilian element within DAS). Mr Pope left Sec (AS) in 1994 (he is currently serving in D DefSy) and his knowledge of this issue, other than from publicly available sources, must be regarded as dated. Mr Pope elected to describe his position as the "Head of the MoD's UFO Project", a term entirely ofhis own invention, and he has used his experience and information he gathered (frequently by going beyond the official remit of his position) to develop a parallel career as a pundit on the topic, including writing several books, some purportedly non-fiction. Mr Pope constantly puts himself forward in various parts of the media, solicited and unsolicited, as an "expert" (despite his lack of recent knowledge about the work carried on in the branch concerned) and seeks credit amongst other aficionados for having "forced" MoD to reveal its "secret" files on the subject. The latter is far from the truth, as we had begun publishing details of the most "popular" reports in the Publication scheme, prior to the advent of the Freedom of Information Act. Mr Pope's activities have nevertheless resulted in the generation of considerable workload for the staff currently employed in responding to queries on this topic.

From The Black Vault, as above, p.145
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Duke

Active Member
Having both talked to and corresponded with Pope over the years, I can tell you I think he's a good guy. He never tried to oversell himself (unlike Elizondo) and was always straight up with me. There was no change in his style or demeanor when he found out my background with USAF and my work with the RAF/MoD on JSF. If anything he seemed more comfortable talking to someone who spoke the same language.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Good guy I can buy, but "doesn't oversell himself" I'm not so sure on.

Unless somebody else wrote "Best-known for having run the Ministry of Defence's UFO program" on his LinkedIn and "ran the British Government’s UFO project. From 1991 to 1994 he researched and investigated UFOs, alien abductions, crop circles and other strange phenomena" on his website. Or those are accurate, which people tend to say isn't the case.
 
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Duke

Active Member
Good guy I can buy, but "oversell himself" I'm not so sure on.

Unless somebody else wrote "Best-known for having run the Ministry of Defence's UFO program" on his LinkedIn and "ran the British Government’s UFO project. From 1991 to 1994 he researched and investigated UFOs, alien abductions, crop circles and other strange phenomena" on his website. Or those are accurate, which other people tend to say not.
He was very down to Earth and explained to me what he did and didn't do without blowing his own horn. He had no way of knowing I had the letter I posted above that effectively acted as his PD.

I spent 30+ years in the DoD, so I'm used to seeing inflated bios, resumes, and performance evaluations. I've seen 2LTs with OERs that make them out to be God's gift to the world.
 

Ann K

Senior Member.
Pope may very well be a "good guy", but that does not absolve him from having a conspiratorial bee in his bonnet. From his Wikipedia entry:

In November 2006, Mr. Pope stated that the government's "X-Files have been closed down".[9] He continues his research and investigation in a private capacity and now works as a freelance journalist and media commentator, covering subjects that include the unexplained, conspiracy theories, space, science fiction and fringe science.[10]

He does work for a number of film companies and PR agencies, promoting the release of science fiction films.[11]
....
Pope also writes for online alternative news site Neon Nettle[18] in which he talks about current topics and news as well as UFO based material on the site fortnightly column. [/es]
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Ann K

Senior Member.
"Neon Nettle" is a site for which Pope writes, and here is the "Media Bias" site report on that site:

72D89A21-E646-4C7B-9835-314E9DF6B578.jpeg
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Here's how some of his successors described the post:

Speaking about the MOD's 'UFO Project' Linda Unwin, the Desk Officer in Directorate of Air Staff (DAS) responsible for dealing with enquiries about UFOs and for implementing Freedom of Information within DAS, said:

"The first point to make is that there is no 'UFO Project'. Handling of UFO sightings is a very small element of our work."

So why should a fairly conservative government department be interested in such things?

"I’ll let you into a little secret…generally, we’re not! The policy is quite simple: we only look at these reports to establish whether there might be anything of defence significance, such as an unauthorised or hostile aircraft in UK airspace."

Linda's colleague, Julie Monk, said that the number of sightings reported each year varies enormously.

"Although at present we are getting about 100 reports a year, in the late 90's there were on average more than double that. Of course, it fluctuates - public interest can increase after, say, a blockbuster film.

So how does the MOD handle reports of UFO sightings? Julie explained that contrary to popular and press belief, UFO sightings are not routinely 'investigated'.

"The vast majority of the reports are far too vague to make even the most basic enquiries, but there might be a handful each year – say where a lot of people have reported something – which are referred to Air Defence specialists.

"MOD does not provide an identification service. Once we have established that there is no defence significance we do nothing more. It would not be a good use of taxpayers’ money."

https://webarchive.nationalarchives...icyAndBusiness/TheTruthIsOutThereUnderFoi.htm
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Duke

Active Member
Again, all I can tell you how he presented himself to me. If you don't like or trust the guy, ignore him. In my case, I'd listen to an hour of finger nails on a blackboard before I'd listen to an Elizondo interview.

But this does bring up an interesting question, however. Are there any ufologists anyone here considers to be trustworthy?
 

Ann K

Senior Member.
But this does bring up an interesting question, however. Are there any ufologists anyone here considers to be trustworthy?
As friends, yes. Regarding UFOs, nope. My long time buddy (I've known her since we were kids, about 1948) has fallen down that rabbit hole and has become a frequent lecturer on the UFO circuit, but as long as we avoid that topic, she is still my buddy.

People compartmentalize, so a person being wackadoodle (is that the proper technical term, one wonders?) in one respect can be a perfectly reasonable and decent person in others. "Liking a person" and "accepting a person's beliefs" are two entirely different things.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Are there any ufologists anyone here considers to be trustworthy?
define trustworthy. every human has the ability to misread situations, paraphrase wrongly, rely too heavily on a fallible memory, let their ego do the thinking, put too much trust in peers, neglect fact checking sources they feel are "reputable" etc.

on the face of it, no ufologist is "trustworthy" because if they had adequate critical thinking skills they wouldn't be ufologists. of course i say the same thing about new-age "liberals" and they say the same thing about me. :)

In the world of truth finding, the safest stance is "noone is "trustworthy", not even yorself".

trust, but verify.

But ...anyone who would turn THAT picture into a metal machine is not trustworthy. That photo is ridiculous.
 

tonyj154

New Member
On the recent Danny Baker podcast In The Treehouse..no 257. Mark from Shropshire submitted a story that he was in the RAF and part of his duties was to investigate UFO reports, he had access to all the aircraft flights in the UK and usually tie up a UFO report with an aircraft flight.
The ones he couldn't tie up got sent to a man in the MOD in London for investigation.
He was surprised when a man from the MOD published a book of UFO reports and they were ALL all his own submitted reports repeated ver batum.....which scuppered his own plans to publish his own book when he retired.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
"Neon Nettle" is a site for which Pope writes, and here is the "Media Bias" site report on that site:

72D89A21-E646-4C7B-9835-314E9DF6B578.jpeg
I wondered if Neon Nettle maybe received that rating just for the UFO stuff, because then any site that publishes Pope would need to be rated like that, as a kind of inevitability, but it turns out there's more:
Article:
Neon Nettle is a right-wing conspiracy and pseudoscience website. There are many articles about Aliens, New World Order, etc. They have a Pants on Fire claim with Politifact and are listed on their fake news list. They also have a Mostly False claim via Snopes and another here. Really the best way to discover this site is actually to visit it and see it for yourself. I suggest a tinfoil hat.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
They have a Pants on Fire claim with Politifact and are listed on their fake news list. They also have a Mostly False claim via Snopes and another here.
only ONE pants on fire and ONE "mostly false" on Snopes and one on Media Bias? That probably beats out the New York Times.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
only ONE pants on fire and ONE "mostly false" on Snopes and one on Media Bias? That probably beats out the New York Times.
No.

The MBFC reviews states that Neon Nettle had 1 "Pants on Fire" claim on Politifact and 2 "mostly false" claims on Snopes, as of 4 years ago.

The New York Times do not have any false claims on Snopes that I could find, and their single "mostly false" claim on politifact was caused by a misleading tweet from their sports editor.
Article:
The New York Times is an American newspaper based in New York. The newspapers has been awarded 122 Pulitzer Prizes and citations, more than any other news organization.

There's no comparison to Neon Nettle, bringing the New York Times into this discussion is completely irrelevant, and suggesting the NYT has more false reporting than Neon Nettle is both unsupported and incorrect. I am flabbergasted that you, as a senior member and former moderator of Metabunk and constant crusader against political bias and double standards, saw fit to inject this kind of bunk claim into this conversation.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
suggesting the NYT has more false reporting than Neon Nettle is both unsupported and incorrect
actually, what i was suggesting is that Politifacts and Snopes probably does alot more fact checking on the New York Times (because they have had millions of articles and are a mainstream paper), vs the handful of articles on Neon Nettle that Politifacts/Snopes probably ignore for the most part.

But thanks to your link i see i am debunked. apparently Politifacts never fact checks the NYTimes. huh.

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Rory

Senior Member.
He was surprised when a man from the MOD published a book of UFO reports and they were ALL all his own submitted reports repeated verbatim

And that "man from the MoD" was...?

Nick Pope by any chance?
 
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Duke

Active Member
Maybe it's time for a dedicated Deirdre vs Mendel sub-forum where you guys can argue with each other to your hearts' content? ;)

Or maybe just a "Mendel vs the world" sub-forum, with a thread for each member. :D



And that "man from the MoD" was...?

Nick Pope by any chance?
Assuming the UK MoD works like the US DoD, once a document is approved and put into the system, its author become transparent relative to its public release as the author's name is often redacted. Even if names aren't redacted, publically released information/documents are fair game for anyone to use. There is also a release process an individual must follow if that individual is trying to publicly publish their own written documents if prepared in the course of that individual's official duties.

The other thing to remember is virtually no document credited to a high ranking officer/civil servant is actually written by that officer/civil servant. While their name may appear on the byline, it was almost certainly written by a junior officer/civilian.
 
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Ann K

Senior Member.
The other thing to remember is virtually no document credited to a high ranking officer/civil servant is actually written by that officer/civil servant. While their name may appear on the byline, it was almost certainly written by a junior officer/civilian.
Same thing happens in industry. The guy at the top gets the credit for what the guys at the bottom accomplished ...whether the boss deserved it or not.
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
Same thing happens in industry. The guy at the top gets the credit for what the guys at the bottom accomplished ...whether the boss deserved it or not.

Government *and* industry do this? Would you believe it's in academia too?!
 

DavidB66

Senior Member
And that "man from the MoD" was...?

Nick Pope by any chance?
I can't think of anyone else meeting this description! The book in question would most likely be Open Skies, Close Minds: Official Reactions to the UFO Phenomenon, published in 1996 when Pope was still employed by the MoD. (The only other possibility that comes to mind is the Condign Report, but that was not willingly published but prised out of the MoD by an FoIA request.) I haven't read Open Skies so I don't know how much of it consists of case studies. If it really does contain a lot of material copied verbatim from someone else's reports, that would raise delicate questions of copyright! For example, does copyright vest in the original writer or their employer for whom they wrote the reports, namely the MoD? And another thought: unless Pope has the most fantastic memory, he would need to have taken copies of the documents or consulted the original files, despite no longer working in the relevant unit of the MoD.
 

Duke

Active Member
I can't think of anyone else meeting this description! The book in question would most likely be Open Skies, Close Minds: Official Reactions to the UFO Phenomenon, published in 1996 when Pope was still employed by the MoD. (The only other possibility that comes to mind is the Condign Report, but that was not willingly published but prised out of the MoD by an FoIA request.) I haven't read Open Skies so I don't know how much of it consists of case studies. If it really does contain a lot of material copied verbatim from someone else's reports, that would raise delicate questions of copyright! For example, does copyright vest in the original writer or their employer for whom they wrote the reports, namely the MoD? And another thought: unless Pope has the most fantastic memory, he would need to have taken copies of the documents or consulted the original files, despite no longer working in the relevant unit of the MoD.
There are no copyrights for official government documents, at least in the USG. As I explained above, if a document is cleared for public release, it's fair game for use by anyone regardless of who actually wrote it.

If Pope used official documents to write his book while still employed by the MoD, it's a given they had been approved for public release. Had they not been cleared, either due to security or FOUO classification, Pope would been prosecuted and/or fired.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Nick Pope in his 1996 book:

"I kept a blow-up of one of [the Calvine] photographs on my office wall until one day my Head of Division noticed it, took off my wall, and took it away."
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Nick Pope writing on his website in 2012:

"In 1991 when I joined the UFO project a poster-sized enlargement of the best [Calvine] photo was prominently displayed on the office wall. I worked in a four-person office and my predecessor had put it up. At some point in 1994 my Head of Division [...] one day took the photo away and locked it in his desk drawer."

https://web.archive.org/web/20120617161817/http://www.nickpope.net/calvine-ufo-photo.htm
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In The Sun, October 2020:

"My Head of Division removed the Calvine incident photo from our office wall. He locked it away in his safe and it’s rumoured that he put it through the shredder."

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/12889...cant-ufo-sighting-they-left-us-shell-shocked/
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On the recent Danny Baker podcast In The Treehouse..no 257.

Wanted to check that out but - shock! horror! - it doesn't appear to be free.

I thought everything was these days? ;)
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Some more on what Pope said happened to the Calvine poster that was on his office wall:

The Scotsman (2009):

"Somewhere along the line the photo disappeared, but I have no idea whether it was genuinely misplaced or whether it was treated as something we shouldn't have seen and put through a shredder."

Daily Record (2012):

"One day, my head of division took it down and locked it in a drawer because he didn’t think we should be displaying something like that."

His website (2012):

"At some point in 1994 my Head of Division had somehow convinced himself that the craft was a secret, prototype aircraft [and] one day he took the photo away and locked it in his desk drawer. What happened next? The suspicion was that someone had shredded the photo."
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So according to Pope:
  • His Head of Division was either aware of it for some time or "noticed it one day" and then took it down
  • He then either locked it in his desk drawer or locked it in his safe
  • Following that, It may have been shredded (admitted rumours)
  • Alternatively, he has "no idea whether it was genuinely misplaced"
Basically, it seems that "no idea" is probably the most accurate desciption and he appears to be speculating.
 

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