Over the last couple of days, I've been on a bit of an alien abduction angle, so, I'm going to share with you a case from the U.K. that is as controversial as it is amazing. Imagine the scene: it’s early one cold winter morning in the north of England. You are walking across a wild stretch of ancient moorland when your attention is suddenly caught by the sight of something both incredible and terrifying: it’s a small, dwarfish creature striding along the old landscape. For a moment or two, you freeze. Then, you remember you have a camera with you. Wasting no time, you quickly snap a picture of the unearthly thing, right before it vanishes. Panicked and amazed, you exit the area at high speed. But, that’s not the end of it. In the days ahead, you are hassled by none other than the British Ministry of Defense: they open a file on you and even dispatch a couple of Men in Black to intimidate you into silence. And, as time progresses, you realize that you may have been abducted by aliens and subjected to the now-familiar “missing time” phenomenon.This may all sound like the plot of some unlikely conspiracy-driven saga of fictional and sensational proportions. It’s anything but. The story referred to above is nothing less than incredible fact. And it all revolved around a retired, English police officer.
It was December 1, 1987 when the strange affair unfolded in spectacular fashion. Due to the fact that the witness had held a position in the British Police Force, he has insisted that his real name should be kept out of the story, which is hardly surprising. His identity is, however, known to a number of English UFO researchers, including Jenny Randles, me, and Peter Hough. His name was also known to the late saucer-seeker, Arthur Tomlinson – who was the man who shared the intricacies of the story with me, as well as the name of the source. For the sake of privacy, though – and maybe even the witness’ safety – he has been given the ID of Philip Spencer.
Three days later, the mailman dropped a letter in the mailbox of Jenny Randles. She was used to getting UFO-themed mail from witnesses and those wanting to learn more about the subject. Today, however, was a bit different. In fact, it was a lot different. Randles sat down and read the contents of the letter – which turned out to be nothing less than incredible. According to Spencer’s story, it was early on the morning of December 1 that he was walking across Ilkley Moor, a huge expanse of picturesque countryside in West Yorkshire, England. It very much resembles the mysterious and atmosphere-filled countryside described in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Rolling hills, massive rocks, and dense fogs are commonplace. As are tales of supernatural creatures said to haunt the area – such as fiery-eyed black dogs, and ghostly apparitions. Tales of witchcraft and secret, occult practices undertaken in the area abound. The perfect place for an alien or several to make an appearance. Spencer had set out early on the morning in question, as he was due to spend time with a family relative. As a keen photographer, Spencer decided to take a few shots of the ancient, rolling hills and the craggy landscape. It was as Spencer got close to the centuries-old, picturesque little village of East Morton, which even today has a population of just little more than one thousand, that reality started to unravel. With the village almost in sight, and as a fog bank rolled in, Spencer was stopped in his tracks by the sight of a small, humanoid figure, dark-greenish in color and with a noticeably oversized head and long, thin arms, climbing amid the rocks.
The creature clearly caught sight of Spencer as it raised its hand in his direction – but, whether this was a good sign or a distinctly bad one, Spencer wasn’t sure. There was no time to lose: Spencer whipped out his camera and got one priceless shot which caught the creature in dead center. The whatever-it-was quickly vanished from view. Things were not quite over, though. As Spencer stood rooted to the spot, wondering what on earth had just happened, nothing less than a classic flying saucer-like craft took to the skies, some distance away. It’s hardly surprising that Spencer chose not to pay his relative a visit, but, instead, felt it would be far more wiser – and perhaps even safer – if he didn’t hang around on a lonely stretch of moorland with no-one else in sight. For Spencer, safety in numbers was very much the order of the day. He quickly headed to nearby Keighley, to get the photo developed. On doing so, however, Spencer realized something strange, something very disturbing: it was close to 8:00 a.m. when he took the picture of the mysterious dwarf, and given that the walk was not a long one, he should have been back among familiar territory in around thirty minutes. To Spencer’s consternation and confusion, it was almost 10:00 a.m. What had happened to an approximate time of two hours? Spencer had no idea, but he was determined to find out – which is why he chose to contact Jenny Randles, who was deeply familiar with the lore and legend surrounding Ilkley Moor.
With such a sensational story, one might be inclined to suggest that Spencer was nothing but a hoaxer. Maybe even an enterprising hoaxer, one who was thinking of how much he could sell the photo for to the tabloid media. As it turned out, however, this was not the case. Spencer insisted on keeping his anonymity. He refused any and all kinds of publicity that might blow his identity far and wide. He even handed over the copyright of the photo to the aforementioned Peter Hough. This, it hardly needs saying, is not the behavior of someone who has a secret, deceptive agenda at work. It is, however, the behavior one might expect from a respected police officer who feared how going public with a UFO story might significantly damage his future career plans. All that Spencer wanted was an answer. He got it, but it may not have been the answer he was hoping for. Hough and Randles jumped into the controversy in full-on fashion.
Checks were made of the area where the entity was seen. Hough had the presence of mind to take photos of the very spot. It was clearly from the comparisons between Hough’s photos and that of Spencer that the non-human thing was somewhere in the region of four-feet in height. There was another important issue too, which helped to bolster Spencer’s credibility. He told Hough and Randles that he had taken a number of photos of Ilkley Moor before he had that chance encounter of the incredible kind. So, the pair asked Spencer for the roll of negatives. Sure enough, the negatives showed that there was just one, solitary image of the assumed alien, and the rest leading up to the sensational image were indeed shots of the local landscape. Of course, had Spencer faked the picture – perhaps using a model of some sort – one would expect to see a few test-shots before getting it just right. But, that wasn’t the case: things were just as Spencer had described them.
The saga became even more sensational when, just a few months after the early morning encounter, Spencer agreed to a session of hypnotic regression. The delicate process was undertaken by Jim Singleton, a respected psychologist who was skilled in the field of hypnosis, as well as unlocking the mysteries of the mind and the subconscious. What came out in the hypnosis was both incredible and disturbing. Spencer recalled that he didn’t just see the alien thing, but was taken on-board a UFO (presumably the same one he saw soar into the sky), and given a “tour” of the UFO. Curiously, as an aside, such tours are oddly common in such cases. Spencer was then subjected to a physical examination, not unlike the ones reported by Betty and Barney Hill in 1961 and Calvin Parker and Charles Hickson in 1973. And, like so many other abductees, Spencer was shown imagery of a future, worldwide Armageddon, one which would wipe out the majority of the human race and leave the Earth in ruins. If that wasn’t all enough to task the already fraught mind of Spencer, there was the matter of the Men in Black, which I have left for last.There’s absolutely no doubt that when it came to the matter of Philip Spencer his real identity was guarded very closely.
Certainly, neither Peter Hough nor Jenny Randles have ever publicly revealed it. It was in 1999 that I was given the real name of Spencer, which was more than a decade after the encounter occurred. In that year, UFO researcher Arthur Tomlinson gave a lecture at the England-based Staffordshire UFO Group, which I was temporarily running, as the president of the group, Irene Bott, was getting ready to retire. Tomlinson spoke extensively about the Spencer case at the SUFOG meeting, and when it was over the two of us had a chat about the case – as Tomlinson knew I had a deep interest in the Men in Black phenomenon. Tomlinson passed away suddenly in the following year, 2000. Although barely a handful of UFO researchers ever knew Philip Spencer’s real identity, it’s clear that someone knew all about him and his experience – someone in the world of espionage, intelligence-gathering, and government secrecy. How the Men in Black came to know the intricacies of the affair is a mystery in itself, but that they knew all of the ins and outs is not a matter of any doubt.
Late one night, at the height of the investigation, there was a knock on the front-door of the Spencer home. Spencer and his wife looked at each other, wondering who had come calling at such a late hour. They soon found out. Spencer opened the door and found himself confronted by two men dressed in suits. They both flashed ID cards, which revealed them to be from the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense. One was named Jefferson, the other Davies. Concerned by this new development, Spencer cautiously invited the pair in. With Spencer’s wife sitting in on the chat – or, maybe the “interrogation” would be a better term – the MIB got straight to the point. They knew all about the encounter on Ilkley Moor, they were fully aware that Spencer had been liaising with Randles and Hough, and – as the pièce de résistance – they wanted that priceless photo. Or else. Thinking and acting quickly, Spencer said that he no longer had the picture, but stopped short of saying it was in the hands of Peter Hough. He simply said he had given it to a friend. Oddly, for what appeared to be men well-versed in the field of sensitive operations, they didn’t even bother asking who the friend was. Instead, they simply stood up and exited the house, leaving Spencer and his wife concerned and confused – to the point that Spencer was close to walking away from the case and away from Randles and Hough, such were his growing concerns about the escalating affair.
There is something else too: the MIB seemed almost transfixed by the electric fire in the Spencer’s living-room – they kept asking questions about it and seemed not to understand what it was. It must be said that such strange behavior turns up in numerous MIB cases. This has given rise to two theories: (a) that government agents deliberately act in such odd ways as a means to frighten the witnesses into believing the MIB are human-looking aliens; and (b) that they really are aliens, albeit ones that are very human-like in appearance. In the case of Philip Spencer, he and his wife were sure that their mysterious visitors were wholly human, but still strange and intimidating. That they knew the intricacies of the case suggests that – under circumstances that still remain unclear to this day – an extensive dossier on the incident had been compiled somewhere deep in the heart of officialdom. Predictably, when Peter Hough contacted the MoD, they denied any knowledge of such an odd visit to the home of Philip Spencer. More than three decades after Philip Spencer had that life-changing, chance encounter on Ilkley Moor, the matter still remains unsolved. As for Jefferson and Davies, they have never been seen nor heard of again. Like just about all of the MIB that have menaced UFO witnesses, they melted away into the darkness from which they had originally come.