Saucer Spies

Nick Redfern. On the Trail of the Saucer Spies: UFOs and Government Surveillance. Anomalist Books, 2006.

Ufologists used to love to think that they were so important that the governments of the world spent vast sums of their taxpayers money spying on them. Nick Redfern here claims that to an extent they were right; some were being spied on, but not for the reason the ufologists thought, rather because some were suspected of using ufology as a cover for more sinister activities.

Of course as ufologists, like aircraft spotters spent a fair proportion of their time looking for odd things in the sky, then it was reasonable that there was some kind of low level surveillance of their activities, in case amongst the things they spotted were some things best kept secret. And when ufologists start breaking into secret military bases they can't be surprised if they come to the attention of the security forces.

While some of the stories, particularly those from across the Atlantic are old hat, there is something new from Britain. However that something new is also something deeply suspect, the claims of an anonymous (of course) person in the special branch or whatever, that he was involved in countering extreme right-wing infiltration into ufology. Too bad for 'Sandman's' credibility is that his fantasy centres around the semi-mysterious APEN, an alleged super-secret UFO organisation which messed with the heads of ufologists in the mid 1970s.

The problem is that there is no great secret as to who actually was behind APEN, it was a Cambridge University student who had dreams of taking over British ufology. Curiously Sandman's scenario is exactly that propagated by said student, that a number of really obscure ufologists in the north of England were actually members of a British Movement secret cell. The student also claimed to be an anti-Nazi activist who had infiltrated the said British Movement (a extreme neo-Nazi group then centred around the Wirral). Well that was certainly a way of getting hold of tapes of Nazi marching music and other nonsense to put in letters.

The student's allegations of super secret neo-Nazi activity involving more and more ufologists, allegedly orchestrated by a French aristocrat of prodigious wealth and equally prodigious perversity, seem to be a precursor to some of the more outlandish conspiracy theories of modern times. That 'Sandman' is parroting this stuff leads me to the thought maybe Sandman is the former student himself. Of course you might argue that Cambridge University graduates may indeed be working for the security services, infiltrating all sorts of organisations and political parties, perhaps even eventually becoming their leaders, but I could not possibly comment.

Even more curiously, I note that Sandman never refers to the serious actual attempts by the extreme right to infiltrate ufology. Redfern gives passing mention to a conspiracy conference in the early 1990s, and to the belief of the organiser that she was being monitored by the Special Branch and secret services. I certainly hope she was, for this conference was indeed organised by the extreme right to give a platform and an entry into the X-Files culture for anti-Semites and Neo-Nazis like Eustace Mullins.

The extreme right also infiltrated the misnamed 'Witness Support Group.' This group was not, as the title might suggest, an organisation for actual UFO witnesses, but was a kind of freelance therapy group for people with serious mental health problems, some of whom were potentially violent; a ready made audience of disaffected and seriously disturbed individuals very useful for the far right.

And if we are going on about the far right connections of ufology, then what about BUFORA's one time President Patrick Wall, often regarded as the most racist and reactionary of all post-War Tory MPs. Wall was associated with a shadowy 'anti communist' movement, the World Anti-Communist League, said to be financed by Saudi Arabia and Taiwan (then under the dictatorship of Chaing Kai Shek), and involved in channelling funds to all sorts of extreme right organisations, and used to channel money for the CIA to help set up the Provisional IRA. With friends like that, who needs to do any infiltrating? -- Peter Rogerson, from Magonia 92, June 2006.

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