Aug 24, 2018 I Nick Redfern

UFO Encounters, Saucers and Secrets

Back in the mid-to-late 1990s, Robin Cole was someone who dug deep into one specific aspect of the UFO phenomenon (he was part of a now-closed group called Circular Forum). Cole focused his attention on the connection between UFOs and the U.K.'s Government Communications Headquarters, better known as GCHQ. It's the U.K.'s equivalent of the United States' National Security Agency. Wikipedia state: "The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is an intelligence and security organization responsible for providing signals intelligence (SIGINT) and information assurance to the government and armed forces of the United Kingdom."

Wikipedia continues: "Based in 'The Doughnut' in the suburbs of Cheltenham, GCHQ is the responsibility of the country's Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, but it is not a part of the Foreign Office and its director ranks as a Permanent Secretary. GCHQ was originally established after the First World War as the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) and was known under that name until 1946. During the Second World War it was located at Bletchley Park, where it was responsible for breaking of the German Enigma codes. Currently there are two main components of the GCHQ, the Composite Signals Organization (CSO), which is responsible for gathering information, and the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), which is responsible for securing the UK's own communications."

Robin Cole, of Cheltenham, England, spent a great deal of time addressing the matter of GCHQ and UFOs. To the extent that, in 1997, he published a report that detailed his extensive research in this seldom-addressed area. Cole cultivated sources from GCHQ, secured data on UFO cases secretly investigated by staff at the agency, and learned that GCHQ had a large library of books on the UFO subject. But, there was more, too. As a result of his investigations, Cole was visited by personnel from the U.K. Police Force's Special Branch, who wanted to know all about his work, which had him worried or a while. You can find out more on Cole and his GCHQ-UFO discoveries in his self-published report, GCHQ and the UFO Cover-up (which, unfortunately, is hard to find now).

In the summer of 1997, I did an extensive interview with Cole about his research. A substantial amount of that interview has never been published, specifically at Cole's request. On those matters which he did feel comfortable about speaking, Cole told me he had been able to confirm that GCHQ has in its files details of actual attempts by the Royal Air Force to intercept UFOs in British airspace. He stated of one such example, from the early 1950s:

“This came to me off-the-record from an informant who was told of the events at the time. Pilots from what used to be RAF Little Rissington, were out on maneuvers when in their sights, an object similar to the descriptions of a flying saucer came into view. Receiving permission to go after the object, they then kept in constant contact with the RAF base. Radar control had the object on screen and heading towards Cornwall. At this point one aircraft returned – the reason is unclear – while the other continued. On reaching the coast the unidentified object put on tremendous speed leaving the pilot and his aircraft well behind. This was also noted on radar. Realizing he had no chance of catching up the pilot simply returned and was debriefed accordingly. GCHQ were fully aware of this event.”

But why would GCHQ take an interest in this particular encounter? “My knowledge,” said Cole, “comes from the person who typed the document up at the time, and they were from inside GCHQ. I don’t think that GCHQ had a department which collated UFO information on a regular basis at that time – the early 1950s; however, it’s clear from my investigations that on occasion GCHQ did play a role in the subject and did come across interesting cases and asked themselves: Is this some form of alien intelligence that we’re not aware of? The way in which GCHQ became involved in the 1952 case is this: because a large part of their work deals with Signals Intelligence – the collection of data – it was that GCHQ picked up on the various messages passing back and forth from the aircrew and RAF Little Rissington. In other words, GCHQ intercepted the conversation.”

What is particularly significant about this case is that the UFO investigator Dr. David Clarke was able to officially confirm its reality, years later. Clarhe also succeeded in tracking down one of those aboard the aircraft in question. That man was then-Flight Instructor Michael Swiney, who told Clarke: “I got the fright of my life because there appeared to be, smack in front of the aero-plane, three circular objects.”

As Clarke noted: "In 2001 [Swiney] broke fifty years of silence to reveal the full story after I discovered a reference to the incident in the operations records books stored at The National Archives." Indeed, this was supported by an entry in the Operations Record Books at the Central Flying School, which stated: 'Flight Instructor M.J.E. Swiney, instructor, and Lieutenant D. Crofts, R.N., student, sighted three mysterious ‘saucer shaped objects’ traveling at high speed at about 35,000’ whilst on a high level navigation exercise, in a Meteor VII. Later, A.T.C.C. Gloucester reported radar plots to confirm this, but Air Ministry discounted any possibility of “extra terrestrial objects.'"

It is important to stress that it was years after Robin Cole discussed privately with me his knowledge of this case - acquired direct from a source connected to GCHQ - that Clarke was finally able to verify its reality. This would strongly suggest that Cole’s informant was truthful, reliable and did have access to classified, insider evidence pertaining to the UFO mystery. Cole had other sources, and information, too.

It's unfortunate that Cole no longer pursues the UFO-GCHQ issue.  He was on the verge of significant developments.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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