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Enigma Issue 12: D Notices

by Paul Vigay | 10th Jan 1997

What is a D Notice? I hear you say. Well, a D Notice is something that the UK Ministry of Defence can issue in order to prevent magazine and newspaper editors from publishing anything which could be construed as a threat to the security of the Nation.

No Reform

D Notices were first used in 1922 and have been used ever since, with little or no reform. Even the secrecy act of 1989 failed to overturn their power, even in the case of 'in the name of public interest'.

Black Triangles

Just recently there have been many rumours circulating regarding numerous sightings of 'Black Triangles' over the United Kingdom. There is allegedly a D Notice in place now to stop the reporting of the 'UFOs', reportedly claiming that they are part of the UK Stealth project.

D Notices in Action

In effect D Notices have become a convenient way of censoring the press, yet trying to maintain the guise of a 'free press'. Sometimes you can even see a D Notice working. For example, how many times have you heard a news story on the early morning news, only to find it missing from later bulletins? Editors sometimes run a story, only to find a D Notice slapped on it and then it fails to make further news - just when your interest has been aroused and you are keeping an eye, or ear, out for it.

No Hiding Places

Because the United Kingdom is a relatively small country, the MOD has not got as many hiding places for testing secret projects as the US has. This is why certain places suddenly become 'off limits' for no apparent reason.

Off Limits to the Public

For example, one of the UK's main test centres for secret projects is Boscombe Down in Wiltshire. There are regular 'No Photography' signs posted along the perimeter and guards regularly patrol, although they generally turn a blind eye to watchers. However, a few years ago there was a mystery crash near the base and, immediately, there was a 'no go' zone around the area and spotters were threatened with legal action if they didn't leave the area immediately. The resulting road closure left rush hour traffic in chaos whilst MOD police cordoned off the area.

Keeping Secrets Secret!

It seems that the UK Government is much better at keeping it's secrets than the US Government, who seem to be regularly in the news accused of some coverup or another. Apparently there is a large fine and/or imprisonment for ignoring a D Notice, even though it is not a legally binding document. However, to my notice no one has ever been convicted of breaking a D Notice. There again, we wouldn't know what has a D Notice on it or not, as if it does, it's highly likely that we won't know about it in the first place. Conversely, if an event doesn't have a D Notice on it, you can be pretty sure it's old news to the 'Powers that be' and therefore not a security issue.

Watch Me!

Right! Now that I've described what a D Notice is, I'm now going to describe some things which allegedly come under a D Notice - so if I suddenly disappear without warning you know why.

UFOs and Stealth

For a start, the British public repeatedly report various 'Black Triangles' around the country, some dangerously near build-up areas or commercial airports. If this, as some people claim, is part of the UK Stealth project I would say it is certainly a matter of public concern that so many 'test' flights are near built-up areas. How long will it be before there is a serious crash or collision with a commercial flight if these really are secret MOD projects?

UFO Spotting

One of the most common reports is of some kind of triangular craft around 30ft long. Members of the public have spotted one of these at Warton (British Aerospace), Lancashire, Norfolk and the West Wales coast - amongst other places. According to rumour, this could possibly be a prototype UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), codenamed HALO which can perform up to 9G (nine times normal gravity) turns.

Similar objects have also been seen by numerous people in the Meols Cop, Banks and Hesketh Bank areas of Southport. Test flights are usually accompanied by a Tornado Jet with the callsign "Tarnish 3". Another place to watch is Boscombe Down, where similar sightings have been reported.

It is also claimed that a D Notice has been served on the BBC warning it not to report on Britain's Stealth project.

Covert Military Projects?

So. What do we make of these sightings? Are they merely rumours, UFO's or part of a secret Stealth project being carried out by the MOD? There seem to be too many reports from ordinary members of the public for everyone to be mistaken. They could be UFO's (as they are obviously flying and are, so far, unidentified), but on occasions they have been seen accompanied or flying in formation with RAF Tornado fighters. This implies that the Government certainly know what they are, which tends to strengthen the argument that they are indeed part of some covert military project.

Accidents waiting to happen!

From researching the various claims, it would appear that, if this is the case, the UK's Stealth project is in advance of the US one - which would give a good excuse for the tight security. However, why test these craft in full visibility of the public, or near busy airports, where an accident is waiting to happen.

For up to date information, sightings and theories, Enigma readers can be sure of getting all information available. If I get a D Notice served on me, you can read about it here (I won't be censored!). Also, if you think you've seen a 'flying triangle' which you cannot explain, please get in touch with me as I am trying to build up a database of areas where the craft have been reported.

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