1970s RAF Manston, Kent.
It is a question of trust. What am I talking about? Well, at a time that ex-senior police officers breach the professional code of standards they should have and sell stories to the newspapers about politicians and other people -keeping your mouth shut.
Witness confidentiality is the most important thing and it has to be maintained. The same applies to work carried out and people you meet and work with and the things they tell you. In 1977 I signed the Official Secrets Act -it was standard in many jobs where confidential or other information might be seen. I signed because of my City of Bristol Police connection. Later on I had to sign an up-dated version. Did it affect the way I operated? No.
You see, there was something even more important than the OSA that affected the way I worked: my word. A piece of paper meant nothing but my word did and I still maintain that stance. Just before setting up the Anomalous Observational Phenomena Bureau (AOP B) I had to meet up with a number of people at a Belgrave Square, London, address. There were a number of senior Armed Forces officers, a couple of Lords and what-not.
It was all somewhat informal. I really did feel like the proverbial fish out of water and when I was asked a couple of specific questions I pointed out that I could not answer them as to do so would mean my having to mention two names and I had given my word not to reveal those names. One gentleman lent forward and asked: "Do you give your word to maintain that position throughout your work?" I said "yes" little realising that a decision must have been made at some point and I had missed it.
And I stuck by my word. There were times when I could have benefited financially from selling a few tit-bits to journalists that were not going to cause any individual problems (especially after some of them had died) but it would mean breaking my word.
The same applies to my work as a UK police forces wildlife advisor. It was a couple of senior officers at two particular forces who breached confidentiality that led to journalists from both The Sun and the Daily Mirror (as it then was) offering quite large sums in return for what was rather low priority information but also maps showing where specific animals had been sighted in the UK. I refused despite really needing the money and the fact that the money would solve quite a few problems. This happened several times over the years but I was bound by my word in this work, too, so I had no choice but to say "no".
With the AOP B work it did lead to some annoyance within the family. My gran, fed up of the number of people in military uniform, police officers and "other sorts" (!) dropping by as well as the mysterious telegrams and phone calls at all hours once let loose with the words: "It's like the secret service with you -you don't tell us anything!" And that was true. Giving my word also meant not blabbing to my family. To be fair on her it had been a busy week with the Bomb Squad on Monday over a suspicious package, two calls by police officers on the Tuesday -one at 01:00 hrs ("God knows what the neighbours think!"); Wednesday had seen three telegrams and two long phone calls "in private" and Thursday and Friday were not much better -and there were the reporters phoning every few minutes.
Just by mentioning three names and their UFO connection I reckon that I could sell a story for quite a good amount. However, I never will. I had a discussion yesterday with someone who tried every trick they could including suggesting I was not telling the truth, just to get some names and information. I even offered him this at the bottom of my later response email:
"If it helps -everything I have ever said or claimed about my UFO work is fake. A lie."
He got rather angry at that. I pointed out that I did not care as I was not him and I was never going to break my word. He then tried the friendly approach again: "I guess we'll have to wait until your archived papers are available then" at which point I told him that the day I die I have arranged for all my papers to be incinerated -no joke: all in archive boxes that fit the burner to the back of the house. Also, I never keep written records of those types of conversations and certainly no "Who's Who" list of persons.
This type of thing does not fit in with the current crop of Ufologists, cryptozoologists or their kith and kin because every line, every name is a potential for making money or getting their names in print or on TV. Nothing I do not want people to know will be known.
I get asked why I got cooperation from military, the various sections of the Ministry of Defence, police and so on. Now you know why. I am reminded of Sir Christopher Lee, known as an actor, he had led a rather "secret" life during World War 2 and would never speak about that work. In one interview he was asked about this work. He lent forward and asked the interviewer (who was getting excited, expecting a revelation): "Can you keep a secret?" The excited interviewer responded:"Yes!" Lee sat back in his chair: "Good. So can I". That's class.
At a UFO convention in Trowbridge in the late 1970s several people watched as a rather stylish black car with CD plates (Corps Diplomatique/Diplomatic Corps) pulled up to where I was standing to rest from all the talking. A short, sharply dressed man approached and addressed me by name. I asked "How can I help?" He produced an embassy pass and said he had some questions he wondered whether I could answer about UFOs? He pulled two foolscap sheets with hand-written questions and as I gave an answer he would write my reply down. After five minutes he thanked me, got back into the car and was driven off. "Who was that?" I was asked so I explained that he wanted to know something about UFOs and it was pointed out that his car had "CD" plates. I just shrugged. Well, he was Russian and that's it. Never asked him "Why?" Left it at that.
I have been asked questions by "Curious Americans" visiting the UK. Even two from France a few years back -all pre-arranged meetings under various guises. I found out who they were but that was it. "We'd like to keep this confidential" meant just that. Zipped lips.
Old fashioned and ensuring that there will be no gold mine book to sell but I never expected to get rich in the first place. If there is one thing I do not do it is blab and what Ufologists or others get out of me while I am alive is all they will ever get -a lot of documents have already been burnt so there are fewer to get rid of later.
I am now waffling. I am either bored or it is getting close to Christmas again....oh.
If I do not post again before then and, unlike me, you DO celebrate Christmas --