Is there anybody out there? The Ministry of Defence, it seems, is taking no chances. Files containing hundreds of previously classified reports are being released today in the hope of persuading ufologists that there has been no cover-up regarding the existence of visitors from outer space.
Yet the files do show that the MoD conducted a rigorous investigation of every alleged sighting of a UFO until well into the 1980s. I can vouch for that! In a briefing note in 1979 the MoD wrote: “Her Majesty’s Government has never been approached by people from outer space.”
Preparing a draft speech for a minister who had to give the Government’s response to a debate on UFOs in the House of Lords in 1979, the MoD wrote: “There is nothing to indicate that ufology is anything but claptrap [but ]the subject will not go away.”
Lord Clancarty, who had asked for the debate, believed that a famous Norfolk regiment had disappeared into a cloud in the Gallipoli campaign in the First World War and put it down to UFO activity. The MoD briefing note had in brackets, “checking with Army Historical Branch”.
The MoD draft went on: “Not a single artefact has been produced, not a single extraterrestrial chap has dropped an extraterrestrial spanner . . . [but] Lord Clancarty has the answer — the CIA has hidden them all.”
However, the MoD acknowledged: “Intelligent life could exist elsewhere in the universe. With 100,000 million stars in our own galaxy alone, it’s probable that there are many planets capable of supporting life
A Doctor Who fan who created knitting patterns for the programme’s monsters and gave them away online has been told by the BBC to stop or face the threat of court action.
The action against the licence fee-payer who had produced patterns of the squid-faced Ood and the short, fat, white Adipose for members of her knitting circle has rapidly become a cause célèbre on the internet.
The 26-year-old woman, who uses the name Mazzmatazz because she does not want to be identified, said that she was “just an ordinary person who likes knitting” who had been caught up in “a bit of whirlwind”. Lawyers argue that her case shows that trademark and copyright law should be changed.
Becky Hogge, the executive director of the Open Rights Group, which helped to publicise the case after trying to advise Mazzmatazz, said: “We need to recognise that there is a difference between selling knock-off hand-bags in the market, and fans who are making tributes and contributing to creativity in the future.”
Because of possible legal action, the knitting patterns have been withdrawn from the internet, although satisfied knitters have taken many pictures. Particularly popular is the blob-like Adipose a creature made from human fat and introduced in the current series. Actually that adipose looks crocheted to me, in plain doubles or trebles.
Andres Gudamuz, a law lecturer at Edinburgh University, believes that the act of creating a knitting pattern could be enough to give Mazzmatazz copyright, which could be a defence if she did not use the Doctor Who name. “For more than a decade fans kept Doctor Who alive when it was off air. The BBC should recognise that,” the laywer added.