Nick Pope and the ‘Missing Toll Booth Encounter’ -By Philip Mantle
I’ve known Nick Pope since he worked for the Ministry of Defense (MoD) in the UK. I still have a letter or two from him in my files when he would reply to enquiries I was making at the MoD. Nick has also spoken at UFO conferences I have helped to organise and we still keep in touch, however, it is more about football than UFO’s. I have no axe to grind with Nick and I have found him to be a very amiable and helpful chap over the years.
With that in mind, I have had doubts about writing this article. I have decided to write this article in the hope it might clear up a long standing rumour and perhaps give us a better idea of why Nick Pope became interested in the UFO subject in the first place.
WHO IS NICK POPE?
For those who might not know who Nick Pope is, here is a brief cut and paste from Nick’s web site:
“Nick Pope used to run the British Government's UFO project. From 1991 to 1994 he researched and investigated UFOs, alien abductions, crop circles and other strange phenomena, leading the media to call him the real Fox Mulder. His government background and his level-headed views have made him the media, film and TV industry's go-to guy when it comes to UFOs, the unexplained and conspiracy theories. Nick Pope has consulted on and helped to promote a number of alien-themed movies, TV shows and video games. He has presented, consulted on and contributed to numerous TV shows, has written five best-selling books, and lectures all around the world. Nick Pope lives in America.”
Let’s dispel a number of falsehoods that Nick Pope has perpetuated. He did not run the British Government’s UFO Project. There never was a British Government’s UFO Project. From 1991 – 1994 the department he worked for at the MoD did handle UFO reports, etc. There was no “UFO Project”. Nick, unlike his predecessors, did put in a bit more work than they did, but that was by his own choice. He still stuck to the official MoD party line when dealing with enquiries about UFOs, and after his three years were up, he moved on. In total, he spent 21 years as a civil servant at the MoD. To confirm what I am sharing here, one can write to the MoD to inquire and confirm this information. I have also highlighted a couple of documents located in the MoD’s UFO files held at the National Archives that confirm this. (Fig 1 & Fig 2)
Early on, when Nick Pope went public and was still working at the MoD, a rumour circulated and still does to this day, claiming Nick had been involved in a case of ‘missing time’ regarding a ‘missing toll booth’ encounter. After first admitting this to a number of people it appeared in his book ‘THE UNINVITED’ as someone else. Did Nick Pope have his own ‘close encounter’ and publish it under someone else’s identity or a fictional alias?
I had heard this rumour myself many years ago, and heard it again in December of 2019. UK researcher Chris Fowler was discussing the alien autopsy film hoax on social media when he reminded me of this incident with Nick Pope. The alien autopsy was screened to a selected audience at the London Museum on May 5th, 1995. Chris Fowler, myself and Nick Pope were in attendance at this screening. What happened after this Alien Autopsy screening was very interesting. Chris Fowler said:
“After the screening finished and everyone had left the area the three of us joined a crowd of people heading for a near-by cafe to discuss what we had seen over a few drinks and something to eat. Those present were Reg Presley, the bass player from the Troggs, John Holman, Kent Jeffery, Colin Andrews, Nick Pope and a few others. At the other end of the cafe sat Rob Irving. After some suggestion from Matthew, Colin joined him for a short chat about crop circles which he later referenced during one of his conference presentations. Not wanting to miss out on this photo opportunity, Matthew took a few shots of them together in mid conversation with his zoom lens. It had been a good day for his camera!
After everyone had eaten we all pulled our chairs around and had a joint discussion about what we had just seen and ufology in general. For me this was the part of the day I enjoyed the most. Reg bought everyone a drink and Dan said to me quietly that he couldn’t wait to tell one of his friends that Reg Presley of The Troggs had bought him a beer! We both had a great time talking to the bass player about the 60’s and what went on back then. Dan asked him the question, what was his favourite version of Wild Thing? “Hendrix’s of course” was his answer. It sounded like he must have had an amazing time back then, mixing and meeting all sorts of stars from The Beatles to Jimi Hendrix! What a place and time to end up talking about the 60’s music scene, more interesting than the UFO talk!
This setting also provided a better opportunity to talk to Nick Pope. I found it pretty weird that here was the UFO man from the MoD having drinks with us and talking about UFOs, just like he was one of us (the MoD are the friendly enemy as far as ufologists go!). As far as Matthew was concerned, there was only one thing he wanted to ask Nick about - Rudloe Manor. “What do you know about Rudloe Manor and what does it have to do with the investigation of UFOs?” he asked. Nick’s answered “where?” Matthew then elaborated further, citing what Tim Good had written in ‘Above Top Secret’. Nick finally said that he remembered reading something or other but didn’t really know anything about it. A white elephant that place. We all thought, yeah, sure thing!
While we were all talking, Nick came out with something that I found pretty weird, at least coming from him that is. He told us all that a few years ago, before he got the job at Air Staff 2A, he was on holiday with his girlfriend at the time in Florida and had what he described as a ‘missing road’ experience. He said that they were on a toll road and all of a sudden realised that they hadn’t passed the toll booth they would have definitely gone through. When he told us this he didn’t even say anything like “listen, off the record, something weird happened once whilst I was on holiday in Florida....” We were pretty amazed, especially when he also told us that he’d written a book on UFOs that was going to be published. Doing this would go on to make him one of the most well-known faces of British Ufology. Reg Presley I found to be a funny guy. At one point when Nick went to the toilet Reg turned to everyone and said, “when he comes back out, let’s say to him, tell us the truth about the MoD and UFOs or we’ll kick the shit out of you!”. Needless to say, the joke went down very well!
A little while later everyone started to disperse. We headed back to Dan’s house in Stratford, looking forward to telling everyone about our eventful time in London. Alien autopsy, ufologist who works for the MoD and rock stars all in one day! “
I decided to make a few enquiries about this myself. I don’t have the contact details of all those folks mentioned by Chris who were there that day. Reg Presley sadly, has passed away. However, I do have the contact details of one of those mentioned as being in the café that day of May 5th, 1995. That person is Colin Andrews. I sent Colin an email and a copy of what Chris Fowler had to say, and Colin sent me a reply of January 3rd, 2020. Here it is in full:
Yes I was there with Reg and the others. I know something was said about Nick's own unspoken experience but unless I can locate my notes for that day, I would hate to rely upon my memory. Additionally, most are not aware that I was responsible for arranging Nick's first public appearance at a UFO conference. It was in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA at the MUFON conference. Early 1990's. During a quiet walk outside the venue with the State Director, our wives’ and Nick, I recall the question again coming up and an evasive side-step, not really answering what happened but acknowledging that something did. Worth saying here that around this time, the MoD had to clear ALL his public statements, including his first presentation I helped MUFON arrange.”
I think it is fair to say that Colin Andrews has confirmed what Chris Fowler has said about the public statement made by Nick Pope on May 5th, 1995. Colin goes on to relate more details of Nick being quizzed about this and although he was evasive he did however acknowledge that something had indeed happened.
Another of those that were present that day on May 5th 1995 and was at the café was Daniel Harris. This is a direct quote from an email I received from Daniel on January 27th 2020.
Thanks for your patience, been super busy for January. Hope the following helps.
In 1995 I was a third year undergraduate studying for a BSc in Psychology at the University of East London. I had considered writing my final dissertation on the impact of ufology on the social sciences or possibly the alien abduction phenomena. At that point it seemed that it was mostly American academics writing in this area and I was making efforts to meet as many people connected with research as possible. I eventually decided against it as I had strong research leads in a different area and felt it was a risky subject to commit to.
However, I did get to meet a lot of very interesting people who shared a deep, sincere and robustly academic interest in many of the same things as me, so when the opportunity came to attend a premiere screening of footage alleged to show the autopsy of a recovered extraterrestrial entity I was thrilled.
The invitation came from my friend and researcher Chris Fowler. Strictly speaking I don't think either of us had a formal invitation so I may have suggested I was a journalist to try and secure entry to the event. It was immediately clear that the interest of many in the research community had been seriously raised. As hoped, we saw some familiar faces including Reg Presley and Nick Pope both of whom we talked to immediately after the screening and stayed for a round of drinks bought by Reg who was keen to discuss what we had seen.
There remained a general level of scepticism about the footage itself as its provenance was never really established at the screening, the footage played, finished and everyone descended on Ray Santilli for answers but Ray fled!
Chris, Reg, Nick and I were left with a small number of researchers talking in small groups and shortly after Chris and I had Nick all to ourselves. Speculation about the footage had quickly evaporated and we had moved on to more personal experiences.
Now, my training kicked in. I knew when and how to shut up and listen. Nick was a very, very interesting guy and the object of a great deal of speculation and discussion in his own right. Having worked for the MoD up until 1994 and claimed to have been responsible for collating information about UFO's for the British military there was a huge amount of expectation about what he would be discussing and writing about in the future.
Nick dropped a bombshell. I don't recall if Chris had met him before but I certainly had not. What he told Chris and I stunned us. In a wider discussion about our own personal experience Nick began to tell us a story in a quite casual, unguarded way. He described a vacation in the USA he had taken with a girlfriend during which they drove a lot. Describing the toll road system Nick explained he was certain he had a section of missing time between one road and another. His toll card clearly showed entry to one route but not to the one his friend and he found themselves on. The event at the time had been significant enough for them to be a bit shaken up. They had no explanation for the missing time or record of entry on to the toll road. Nick only seems to link this experience to the UFO/abduction phenomenon much later and by the end of his story he still seemed to feel the same sense bewilderment. Chris and I both had our jaws on the floor. We couldn't believe what he'd told us. He hadn't invited us to keep the information confidential and I think we both assumed he would be going public with the story in some form.
I only wish I could remember more of the details of the story itself! I moved away from any serious interest in research shortly after but always remained sceptical of Nick's motivation for telling us the story. But, hand on heart, Nick told a very interesting tale that day and I'm sad if he feels he is unable to either recant or corroborate it.
NICK REFERN's new book:
THE RENDLESHAM FOREST UFO CONSPIRACY:
"The majority of the staff at the MoD who handled the UFO subject - Pam Titmarsh being a good example - were decidedly cagey when it came to the matter of getting chummy and chatty with ufologists. Matters began to change for the better in 1991. That was when a man named Nick Pope took over the reins in "the UFO office." He was refreshingly open - to the extent he could. So, on March 29, 1994, I decided to be proactive. I took a trip to London and had a face-to-face chat with Pope in a nearby bar. We found a quiet area where I could record the interview, got our cold beers, and began. Nick began by explaining to me funding for the MoD office - for UFO investigations - was tiny in the extreme. In Pope's own words: "There is no specific 'UFO budget', excepting the staff costs, i.e. around twenty percent of my salary, together with a tiny percentage of some other salaries, reflecting my line management's supervisory role."
And that was it. Even the U.S. Air Force's Project Blue Book had a bigger budget - and that, back in the 1950's and 1960's, was hardly what one would call astronomical. On top of that, Pope quite openly told me that he never went out of the MoD building to undertake an in-the-field-type investigation: he would simply sit at his desk and take phone-calls or handle letters from UFO witnesses and flying saucer investigators. The reports would then be sent to an arm of the Defence Intelligence for scrutiny and explanations. It was hardly like the exciting scenarios we saw the X-Files began, which was just one year before I met Pope.
From Nick Redfern on 3rd July 2010 via facebook:
“Hey Philip, Saw your email. I'm on FB most of the day today, so easier for me to reply here. Yes, that's correct Pope didn't "run" any kind of UFO program. He just handled reports that were forwarded to Defence Intelligence for an explanation. Yes, I do know of the Toll Gate (toll booth) "abduction" case he had.” Nick Redfern added a bit more concerning Nick Pope’s role at the MoD: “yeah, he was basically a civil servant receiving phone calls and letters concerning UFOs and getting advice from Defence Intelligence. To me, that's not a "UFO project." (Fig 3)
DR. DAVID CLARKE
As you can see Nick Pope made this statement about the ‘missing toll booth’ in public and there were many witnesses to what he had to say. Not to disbelieve Chris Fowler I went on to contact some old friends and colleagues about this to see if they had any information as well. The first was Dr David Clarke. David and I have been friends and colleagues for a long time and although he has some very skeptical views on UFOs, especially the ETH, he is the man who worked tirelessly to have all the MoD’s UFO documents released to the National Archives in the UK and he is the official spokesman for the National Archives and the MoD UFO files and not Nick Pope. I simply asked David if he could confirm these rumours concerning Nick Pope. He replied in full:
“The fact that Nick *is* Peter aka 'Terror at the Toll Booth' is confirmed by:
a) it remains a fact that in the early drafts of his first book 'Open Skies – Closed Minds' Nick Pope openly described the experience as having happened to him. We know this is true because Jenny Randles was asked to review the early draft by the publisher and has written openly about this. Georgina Bruni, Pope’s close friend and colleague, took her to task for allegedly breaking witness confidentiality when this emerged in 1998 but this was just perfidy. The Sunday Times had already outed him as 'Peter' and he just looks ridiculous when he keeps denying the truth, 20 years later.
b) if you have read Chris Fowler's account (and others) of what happened after the premiere of the alien autopsy film it simply confirms Jenny's account from (a) above. At that time Nick Pope was telling all and sundry he was Peter - among the witnesses were Kent Jeffery, Matthew Williams, Reg Presley, Colin Andrews and many others.
The real mystery is why, after openly admitting this in public, he suddenly decided to deny it. I suspect it was because:
a) he was forced to remove the story from the manuscript (Open Skies – Closed Minds) by the MoD reviewers because of the embarrassment value - but we will never know for sure because Nick Pope has gone to extraordinary lengths to stop his former employers from releasing the papers surrounding the clearance of his manuscripts under FOIA. However, one letter (DEFE 24/1985) dated 10 October 1995 written by Nick Pope to the division of the MoD that dealt with the clearance of his manuscript contains an interesting hand-written comment by one of the recipients. This note is one of the few to have escaped redaction and reads: “A great pity that a more permanent abduction by aliens cannot be arranged. I’m not surprised that they [Secretariat Air Staff – his former branch] didn’t want to keep him”. The context of this comment suggests a direct link to Pope’s ‘missing time’ story which at that point, 1995 remained intact in his original manuscript. (Fig 4)
Andy Roberts, Chris Fowler and myself have tried to secure access to the files that cover the clearance of his manuscript using Freedom of Information requests. My own attempt went on appeal to the Information Commissioner who decided against release because Nick Pope invoked his rights to privacy and the Human Rights Act and wrote to his former employers asking them not to release this information even if they were minded to do so. Judging by more recent responses they have now destroyed most of this material in order to ensure it will never emerge into the public domain.
However, if you read the PQ (Parliamentary Question) response to MP Norman Baker from 2003 (attached) you will see a very clear statement from a more senior MoD official who confirms there was no 'UFO project' and Nick Pope was regarded by his former colleagues as someone who was using his position to promote himself to the international media as the British government’s UFO expert when this was incorrect. This might explain why Nick Pope was keen to stop the internal discussions from emerging when the MoD released the bulk of their UFO files in 2008-2013.
b) secondly, if you read the piece of investigative chronology that I compiled (Terror on the Toll Road, below), you will see another reason why Nick Pope was reluctant to discuss his experience in Florida. If he did so it would reveal that the legend he has carefully cultivated for years, namely that he was a 'skeptic' with no interest in UFOs when he was offered the Sec (AS) job in 1991, is not accurate. According to the account in his book The Uninvited Peter’s 'missing time' experience occurred in January 1991, six months before he claims he was 'sounded out for the job' [on the so-called ‘UFO desk’]. Yet he clearly had knowledge of and connections with ufologists before that time. I have found evidence in the National Archives files that Nick Pope had some interest in UFO reports as early as 1988 when he worked for the Naval Secretariat in MoD. In that year he passed information about a UFO sighting on the Isle of Wight to the UFO desk three years before he was offered the job on the ‘UFO desk’ (Fig 5 & 6)
I suggest if you put all this evidence in front of a jury in a crown court they would, on the balance of probabilities, agree that Nick Pope is 'Peter'.
Nick Pope has some serious questions to answer and simply being a celebrity does not mean you can evade them forever (unless you are Boris Johnson of course)....Dr David Clarke”
I think it is fair to say that Nick Pope and Dr. David Clarke are not the best of friends, but I have known David a long time and I have no reason to doubt what he has to say. David also drew my attention to where Nick Pope is quoted in a book about this matter.
In Jane Goldman’s book The X-Files Book of the Unexplained (Simon & Schuster 1995), the following section appears in an extended interview with Nick Pope: “…while Mulder’s desire is not just the truth, but also a resolution to the mystery of his sister’s disappearance, Nick Pope’s purpose is surely more straightforward. Or is it? ‘You could say that, like Fox Mulder, my interest is not purely an academic one and I’m driven by some personal motivations. My primary motivation is the intellectual belief that there is a genuine unknown phenomenon, and my belief in the people’s right to know, but a part of my motivation is a desire to explain some anomalous events in my own past.’…He is reluctant to go into detail but offers: ‘The very furthest I would want to go is to say that there are some events in my past which some people in the UFO lobby would say are some of the factors that are present in cases of abduction. But I want to stay on the fence until I know what happened to me.”
YUFOS MAGAZINE AND JENNY RANDLES
You can see here that Nick Pope uses the plural ‘events’. What events Nick? I’ve also outlined here an extract from the article from the YUFOS magazine and (Volume 3, September 1999) The ‘Peter’ Controversy – The Right To Reply. Here you can read in Jenny Randles own words how it was an open secret that Nick Pope is aka ‘Peter’ and the fact that he has indeed undergone his own experiences.
From YUFOS magazine September 1999: (Fig 7)
Jenny Randles………” (Jenny had been accused of breaking witness confidentiality in revealing the true identity of ‘Peter’ in Nick Popes book THE UNIVITED). As such I am frankly livid at the suggestion that I have disregarded such ethics and – it seems the ridiculous charge is – that this was to gain publicity. You may care to know something I would not normally discuss but I seem to have to do this now in view of circumstance. Twice last year (1998) I was approached by major media sources but got the impression I would be expected to publicly identify ‘Peter’ in front of millions as a consequence. One is a TV show that I was offered a four-figure sum to work on and because I said no I will now not even feature as an interviewee. I do know the identity of Peter but declined to be associated with the things I was being asked to do. Three months after the above I was being publicly accused in Georgina Bruni’s gossip column on the internet for disregarding witness confidentiality – something your magazine now appears to reiterate. Does this make me regret that I said no to national TV exposure and a nice cheque that right now I could badly use to pay the mortgage (since I don’t get paid £50,000 to write a book). No it does not. I stood by my principles and always put them above money. Sadly not that many people in ufology are aware of how some silly twits like me seem to consider this sort of action a virtue in today’s money grabbing, fame and fortune society. As stared, I know for certain who Peter is. But ‘Peter’ asked me personally only this year not to reveal his identity in public and that I will abide by, of course. However, what I want to make abundantly clear is this. I have not gone behind anyone’s back and blabbed a confidential identity to the public. You need to understand what actually happened. Nick Pope himself revealed the identity of Peter to many people long before I did. As such I was not under any obligation nor any impression of witness confidence until that very recent request by ‘Peter’. Once a witness is publicly outed by the person writing his story I find it incredible that anyone can turn around years later and suggest it is somehow my fault if the media find out who this witness is. For the record, Nick Pope identified ‘Peter’ to a room full of ufologists in a London café in May 1995 – at least so several of them told me (indeed one who was there has already written up this story in a book!). In my presence Nick Pope shared the news with others at a UFO conference. I late 1995 I read the original manuscript of ‘Open Skies – Closed Minds’ and this told the story of Peter using the real identity of the witness. Several others read the manuscript too in 1995 and indeed were instrumental in setting up the hypnosis of Peter, which was in fact conducted by a ufologist, I gather, not a medical professional, at least if I understood correctly what was said by that ufologist in a public lecture before hundreds of people. As such the identity of Peter was common knowledge amongst quite a few folk, apparently thanks to Nick Pope himself, before even I even came to know about it, and it created a rumour sweeping ufology long before I said a word. I spoke three times face-to-face to Nick Pope between 1996 and 1998 advising him of this news and suggesting that I would not be selling the story to the media (despite several opportunities to make big money this way). He has long known that I knew. He knew how I knew (because I told him I had read his manuscript when we met for me to film an interview with him at the MoD in December 1995 – long before his book (Open Skies – Closed Minds) was even published – and indeed that night I offered suggestions to him about the text. He knew I felt it more than likely someone would tell the media soon. So I argued, you would be well advised sorting this out under your control. He told me on two separate occasions (and in front of witnesses – e.g. at the April 1995 Fortean Times conference) things like – if many people in ufology know who Peter is I don’t need to tell them, do I? And Peter’s identity will be revealed when the time is right. All fair enough, of course. It was down to Peter as and when this happened – if ever – and also Nick Pope for being the person who revealed Peter’s identity in the first place. But I truly fail to see how what I did was anything less than proper. Despite knowing who Peter was since 1995 I have said nothing during numerous media interviews when asked what I thought of Nick Pope. I did say something a couple of times in UFO circles - I admit – but after the book was out and the curious way the Peter story was being handled in public by Nick Pope became apparent. Also not until I became well aware of how various other ufologists knew Peter’s identity already via Nick Pope himself. So at no time was I responsible for deliberately breaking a witness confidence or disregarding the code of practice to expose the identity of Peter. I felt it not my place to out Peter to the media, so did not do that, but acceptable to comment to fellow ufologists, many of whom knew anyway and because I became concerned about the way Nick Pope was presenting this story and from this his stated disinclination to set the record straight. I was never at any time asked by Nick Pope to keep Peter’s identity secret, despite him knowing for four years that I was aware who Peter was and despite my speaking to him face-to-face on the matter several times during this period. Neither Peter nor Nick (who had my ex-directory phone number) made any attempt to call me, or write to me, or in and privately request that this matter was one they wished me to keep confidential. The first such request came from Peter only a matter of weeks ago – after the Georgina Bruni gossip column discussion about the matter this Spring. As for now, frankly, I have a hard time not coming straight out and telling you what I do know about the identity of Peter, given the way this has all occurred, the manner I have been scandalously accused of publicity seeking, and the extreme lengths I went to so as to play fair with Nick Pope and Peter. Whilst Nick is making money out of Peter’s story I have lost both money and opportunities by choosing not to do so. Yet somehow I am cast as the villain here. Incredible. But a promise is a promise and I will keep to it now that it has been requested – and the code of practice is a code that I chose to abide by. But I would appreciate people not jumping to conclusions. Unfortunately, Nick and Peter, that’s what happens when people only get told half the story. Best wishes, Jenny Randles.”
Here Jenny Randles confirms the public statement made by Nick Pope in the café on May 5th, 1995. Jenny also states quite clearly that Nick Pope also made other public statements about his own ‘close encounter’ at other UFO conferences and that it was a well-known fact among UFO researchers. Nick was now changing his story and saying that ‘Peter’ as outlined in chapter 12 of his book THE UNINVITED was not him but someone else.
In fact Jenny Randles had already confirmed in the media that Nick Pope was indeed ‘Peter’. In an article in The Sunday Times newspaper on February 7th, 1999 Jenny Randles stated: “When I discovered that Nick had had an experience I was mildly surprised given his position as the government expert on UFOs. What surprised me more though is why he has never admitted to it before and why he chose to describe the incident as happening to someone else. Clearly, the truth really is out there.”
Going back to the September 1999 issue of the YUFOS magazine, Dr. David Clarke also commented on the on-going discussion and accusations against Jenny Randles. David had this to say: “Since I’ve been asked for me view on this tiresome nonsense; here it is. Nick Pope has a cheek accusing anyone of seeking publicity, as it seems to me his entire ‘career’ in ufology has been cleverly engineered to make himself as much cash and fame as possible based upon a pretty uneventful 3 or 4 years as a civil servant. Can’t blame him for that – I’d have done the same. But this whole ‘Peter’ business is a joke, and the only people fooled by it are the newcomers and the naïve. As far as I’m concerned it’s common knowledge that Peter is Nick Pope; it’s been exposed to millions via the Sunday Times, it’s in the public domain. You can’t have your cake and not eat it. The fact that Peter is Nick Pope was in the first draft of his book, and as Jenny says the man himself has told dozens of people over the past 5 years. Given those facts, he has no right to turn around now and claim otherwise, trying to turn the clock back and accuse others of being ’unprofessional’. As a journalist it is my code of practice that if someone is challenged and they say I can’t confirm, and I can’t deny’ that equals “Yes it’s true.”
Here David Clarke is referring to Nick pope’s comment in the Sunday Times article when he says he was unable to confirm or deny the allegations that he was Peter. Surely if Nick Pope was not Peter then here was chance to publicly deny them but instead he fudged it. Why did he do this. In the article Nick claims it was because ‘Peter’ had fallen out with his girlfriend and he didn’t want her to be involved. How could his girlfriend ‘Jenny’ be involved if Peter was not Nick Pope? Nick had a great opportunity to say that he could not identify the ‘real’ names of Peter and Jenny as they had wished to remain anonymous. But no, he fudged it instead. This was not the first time that Nick Pope had that opportunity to deny that he was Peter.
Philip Kinsella is a close encounter witness, author a public speaker in the UK and he too adds his own account of the discussion over Nick Pope’s own alleged encounter. This time it was at a TV studio and not a café in London. Philip Kinsella provided the following for me on January 3rd, 2020.
“In September 1998, I had been invited onto a live television debate broadcast by Carlton Television in Nottingham regarding UFOs. The program had been hosted by the Scottish presenter, Kay Adams and was to be a balanced view on the subject-matter. I had no idea at the time what the program had been called, until we’d entered the studio which had been littered with a somewhat negative audience. It had been titled ‘X-Files or X-Fools.’ I had been asked to attend by a producer who’d seen me talk on Channel Four, and thought I’d be a good speaker. I was joined by UFO investigator, Omar Fowler, along with Nick Pope, Georgina Bruni, Malcolm Robinson, Terry Le Richie Walters, Andy Roberts, to name but a few. After we’d taken our seats and the countdown began, Kay Adams began her introduction which seemed less than appealing, drawing more into the negative with regards to the UFO reality. A member from the audience firstly quizzed Nick Pope, (former Ministry of Defence) about him deliberately having a chapter retracted from one of his books, apparently dealing with a personal abduction Nick Pope himself had experienced. Pope merely allowed the man to rant on without either confirming or denying the said episode. This had been the first time I’d heard anything about these said allegations. I must state that both Nick Pope and Georgina Bruni, author of ‘You Can’t Tell the People’ had been very kind to me back then. If Pope’s experience is real, then I believe a great many within the UFO community would support him. After all, he is a man of integrity and kindness. “
Although Nick Pope did not make any statements here regarding the allegations made against him surely it would have been the perfect opportunity to deny them on live TV. It does however show that the story of Nick Pope having his own close encounter and the fact that he had removed the details of this from his first book ‘Open Skies – Closed Minds’. Dr David Clarke and Jenny Randles had also confirmed this.
A FORMER GIRLFRIEND
If the above wasn’t enough I wanted to see if I could locate someone who was a friend of Nick Pope and was not directly linked to ufology. This I did by contacting one of his girlfriends from the late 1990’s. The lady in question is a well known author and broadcaster and I contacted her via email to ask if she knew about her former boyfriend’s missing time experience. I’ll not mention her real name instead I’ll refer to her as ‘Mary’. In an email I received from Mary on January 14th 2020 she informed me:
“Great to hear from you - but sorry to disappoint. Until I got your email I had completely forgotten about Nick's 'missing time' episode with his girlfriend. I do know she was indeed the daughter of some US government high-up, which I personally thought at the time to be important somehow in his UFO interest. All I can say is that he told me it did happen to them, and as far as I can recall, as you describe. “
I have met ‘Mary’ just once many years ago and have only on rare occasions exchanged emails with her. She does not appear to me to suffer from the ‘woman scorned’ syndrome so I have no doubt that what she has said in answer to my query about Nick Pope is in fact true.
THE UNINVITED – Chapter 12 – Terror on the Toll Road
I have a signed copy of this book THE UNIVITED by Nick Pope. It was signed to me and my ex-wife Sue. The first thing that I would say about the book is the statement on its front cover ‘THE GOVERNMENT’S UFO EXPERT’. Now Nick may say he had no say in what the publisher puts on the cover, but one is for sure he is and never was the government’s UFO expert. As I have already pointed out despite what Nick Pope says, there never was a British Government UFO Project therefore he could not be the head of it.
Moving on, I think it only fair that we look at chapter 12 of this book as this is where ‘Peter’ tells his story. First off in the second paragraph on page 191 Nick states that: “Although there have been a number of anomalous incidents in Peter’s life, the only one he wishes to talk about for the moment is the one detailed in this chapter. Of course Nick Pope in his interview with Jane Goldman is quoted as saying “but a part of my motivation is a desire to explain some anomalous events in my own past. The very furthest I would want to go is to say that there are some events in my past which some people in the UFO lobby would say are some of the factors that are present in cases of abduction. But I want to stay on the fence until I know what happened to me.” A coincidence? Both Peter and Nick having anomalous incidents (plural) in their past? In the book ‘Peter’ is acknowledged as being British but at the time he was in a relationship with ‘Jenny’ and American woman. The encounter in question took place on January 3rd, 1991 during a holiday in Florida. They were driving on to Boca Raton on the Florida Turnpike. They had a friend ‘Sharon’ asleep in the back of their vehicle. The essence of the strange event that was about to take place is that ‘Peter’ and ‘Jenny’ suddenly found themselves on the outskirts of Boca Raton and they had not turned off the toll road at the exit they had on their map. In fact the money they had ready to pay their toll and the ticket were still on the dashboard of their car. Both Peter and Jenny realised that something strange had taken place and were both scared and puzzled. Upon arrival at their destination the couple talked a lot about what had happened but strangely did not mention it to their companion ‘Sharon’ who had slept through it all. Sometime after the experience Jenny returned home to the USA (she had been studying in the UK) and their relationship ended. A few months later the experience was to come back to Peter after reading a book by UK UFO researcher John Spencer. The book is called ‘Perspectives’ and deals with close encounters, missing time and alien abduction accounts. Peter was shocked to read of a similar experience to his in this book. There was a ‘missing time’ account in the book from a witness who suddenly was startled to see a sign post for home. This reminded Peter of the event on the Florida Turnpike. The book however mentioned an alien abduction scenario, and this scared Peter. Peter is said not to have finished reading the book and he was forced to reassess the incident on the toll road. Again, we must also return again to the interview that Nick Pope gave to Jane Goldman for her book; ‘The very furthest I would want to go is to say that there are some events in my past which some people in the UFO lobby would say are some of the factors that are present in cases of abduction. But I want to stay on the fence until I know what happened to me.” Is this not what ‘Peter’ says as well?
Although the idea of alien abduction seemed ridiculous he had to admit that something was going on. Peter put this experience to the back of his mind and over the next few years he became increasingly interested in the UFO subject but felt no good reason why he should re-visit the incident on the Florida Turnpike in 1991. The book then goes on the say that Peter made a trip to the USA in the Autumn of 1995, but rather surprisingly there is no mention why he made this trip or what he went to the USA for. During the trip Peter was to receive an offer of regression hypnosis, aimed at getting to the bottom of the event on the toll road in 1991 with Jenny. Under regression hypnosis a quite extraordinary story is uncovered. It’s a long story so I’ll briefly say that Peter states that the car was slowly pulled off the road, his girlfriend Jenny was sat next to him and she was like a statue. The car was in a clearing of trees about 100 feet up in the air. The trees were illuminated by a light. Peter undid his seatbelt, opened the car door and literally walked in thin air. The next thing he remembers is that he stepped up to avoid a bulkhead. Peter was suddenly then in a metallic corridor which he described as being six feet high and three feet wide. His surroundings reminded him of a naval ship, something that he was moderately familiar with. There was tubular yellow lights on the floor. Peter found an opening to his left and he found himself in a rectangular room. The room was piled high with cardboard boxes that seemed to be full of junk. Peter wasn’t sure what was in these boxes, but some items seemed to be associated with road maintenance. Peter eventually left the room and returned from where had come and walked in this air again back to the car in the trees. Jenny was still sitting there motionless. Peter did not recall seeing Sharon. He got back in the car and it was returned to the ground spinning as it did. This made Peter feel sick and then the car was not returned to where they were on the toll road but on the highway outside of Boca Raton. When Peter came out of the hypnosis he was asked how long he thought the session had lasted. Peter thought it was twenty or thirty minutes, but he was told that it was almost one and a half hours. Accordingly Peter is said that he is not prepared to label himself an abductee, although he realizes this is an aspect that no doubt would be suspected by ufologists. Peter is not prepared to say that the corridor and the room were on a spaceship, and as has been stated he saw no evidence of any entities. Despite this, there is no escaping the fact that if the event occurred as Peter remembers, then he was taken – without consent – and subjected to a truly bizarre experience. There must, surely have been some purpose behind it” The last paragraph of this chapter is: “Peter’s subsequent recollections might suggest an abduction, uncertainties about regression hypnosis must cast doubt on this. And if these events did happen, there is no way to be sure whether they occurred in the physical universe, in the internal, psychological universe, or in some other reality about which we can only speculate.”
What can we say about ‘Peter’ and ‘Jenny’s’ missing toll booth event? Well the first thing that I noticed was that Peter does not tell us why he was returning to the USA or even what part of the USA he was visiting. He was happy to tell us that in 1991 he was there with his girlfriend on holiday. So how come he can’t tell us why and where he was going in 1995? The oddest thing is of course was that during his trip to the USA in the Autumn of 1995 an offer of regression hypnosis was made to him. Is it only me that finds this a bit peculiar? I’m not aware of regressive hypnosis simply being offered to random British tourists entering the USA. Surely such an arrangement must have been made in advance or at least discussed. However there is no mention of how this offer of regression hypnosis came about, where it took place and more importantly by whom. In his account Peter also mentions the fact that the bulkhead etc reminded him of a navy vessel and that he had some familiarity with such. I would like to remind everyone that before Nick Pope worked at the MoD in London he worked at the Naval Secretariat in Portsmouth. Is this why Peter (Nick Pope) was familiar with naval vessels?
So, Nick Pope has made these very claims in public on several occasions, the details were in the original draft of his first book OPEN SKIES - CLOSED MINDS which was read by Jenny Randles . The ‘Peter’ story and the missing toll booth encounter was published in Nick Pope’s book ‘THE UNIVITED’, however, ‘Peter’ is in fact Nick Pope. The story is also published in The Sunday Times newspaper and Nick is also quoted in Jane Goldman’s book. And last but not least we have a document signed by Nick Pope himself from 1988 showing that he already had an interest in the UFO subject prior to working at the MoD from 1991 – 1994 at Air Staff and dealing with UFO enquiries as part of his job. We also have an official document from the MoD clearly showing that there was no British Government UFO Project. Nick Pope had the opportunity on several occasions to publicly deny that he was Peter, in national newspapers and on live TV, but he declined to do so. When you read chapter 12 of THE UNINVITED there are several similarities to quotes that Nick Pope had given but now were being said by ‘Peter’. There is no mention of why Peter went to the USA in 1995 or which part he visited. There is no description of how the offer of regressive hypnosis was made, who conducted it and where. Then we have both ‘Peter’ and Nick Pope having a familiarity with naval vessels. All a coincidence? I think not. When you put all of this information there is only one conclusion that you can arrive at, Nick Pope and ‘Peter’ are one of the same. Of that I have no doubt.
NICK POPE AND HIS REPLY
With all this information to hand I had to ask Nick Pope himself what he made of it and give him the right to reply. Nick replied to my enquiry on December 18th, 2019:
The story was based on a US abduction report that I investigated, but my (fictional) involvement was a 'barium meal test'. I do a similar thing in the manuscripts of my books, to identify any pre-publication leakers - the written version of a barium meal test is generally referred to as a 'canary trap'. Just some sneaky MoD techniques I picked up over the years!
Best wishes, Nick”
I have to be honest but to me Nick Pope’s ‘explanation’ for this simply doesn’t fit the information provided. For example why would you write the story into a manuscript, have Jenny Randles (and others) read this draft, and then remove it from the published book? Why would you mention it in public with a number of well-known UFO researchers there after the screening of the alien autopsy film? Why would you talk to author Jane Goldman about ‘anomalous event’s’ in your past? Surely Jane Goldman wasn’t in Nick’s ‘canary trap’ as well? No. Not at all. Now, you might not agree with me and like I pointed out right at the beginning of this article, I have no axe to grind with Nick, but his explanation simply does not add up. Of course I can’t prove this and at the end of the day only Nick Pope knows for sure the real story, but I think there is more than enough evidence here to say that there is certainly no smoke without fire and I am convinced that this is no ‘canary trap’ and that Nick Pope is indeed ‘Peter’ and that he has indeed undergone a close encounter experience (or possibly several). If this is correct then why would Nick Pope not admit it? Well, Nick likes to sit on the fence and to admit such a thing may spoil his appearance as a neutral observer and commentator. There are many reasons why Nick Pope might like to keep this under his hat and all I can say is if you want to know his reasons for doing so then just ask him.
‘Terror on the Toll Road’ - Timeline
1985: Nick Pope joins Ministry of Defence (MoD).
1988: Whilst working for the Naval Secretariat at MoD, Pope passes information concerning a UFO sighting on the Isle of Wight to Clive Neville on the UFO desk in Whitehall.
1990-91: Christmas – ‘Peter’ and ‘Jenny’ take a 3 week holiday in Florida, Jenny’s homeland. Peter is British and has had ‘several anomalous incidents’ in his life; he met Jenny while she was studying in London. (Uninvited, p 192).
1991: January 3rd: After spending the day at Universal Studios, Peter and Jenny drive back to Boca Raton via Florida Turnpike. They experience a ‘missing road’ experience en route. ‘…neither Peter nor Jenny had any knowledge of or interest in UFOs, other than a general awareness that the UFO mystery existed’ (Uninvited, p 195).
1991: July 17th, ‘Sounded out for Owen Hartop’s job’ at Sec (AS) 2a. According to interview published in IUR ‘I had just finished various duties associated with the Gulf War and it just so happened that there was a vacancy which cropped up. Also in this office was a chap I had worked with quite closely…and he offered me the job. I was aware that UFO research was one of its functions’. Asked if he had any previous interest in UFOs he replied: ‘Very minimal. I had seen a couple of documentaries, read one Charles Berlitz book on the Bermuda Triangle. I knew very little about the subject and went in with a clean slate, so to speak.’
1991: July 29th. Nick Pope began work on the ‘UFO desk’.
1991/2: Peter and Jenny split up; Jenny returns to USA to go to university. The memory of the ‘missing road’ incident slips from their conscious memory but Peter is reminded on reading a book ‘a few months later’ which ‘he found in a second hand shop’ (John Spencer’s Perspectives). This contains a UFO abduction account involving missing time on a road.
1992: ‘Peter put his own experience from his mind over the next few years, and while he became increasingly fascinated with the UFO mystery, he never felt any urge to explore what might have happened on that Florida Turnpike in 1991’ (Uninvited, p 197).
1994: April – Nick Pope interviewed by Lawrence Moore for Network First TV programme on Central TV.
1995: May 5th – Nick Pope attends screening of Alien Autopsy film at Museum of London. Afterwards he joins a party of UFOlogists at a nearby café. The party includes Chris Fowler & friend, Reg Presley, John Holman, Kent Jeffery, Colin Andrews and Matthew Williams. Fowler, in an account of the meeting, writes: ‘while we were talking, Nick came out with something that I found pretty weird…he told us all that a few years ago, before he got the job at Air Staff 2A, he was on holiday with his girlfriend at the time in Florida and had what he described as a ‘missing road’ experience. He said they were on a toll road and all of a sudden realised they hadn’t passed the toll booth they would have definitely gone through. When he told us this he didn’t even say anything like ‘listen, off the record, something weird happened once while I was on holiday in Florida’. We were pretty amazed, especially when he also told us that he’d written a book on UFOs that was going to be published.’
1995: July – Nick Pope leaves Sec (AS), after 3 years tour of duty. Moves to financial secretariat. Replaced by Kerry Philpott as UFO desk officer.
1995: July 2nd – Mail on Sunday reveals that Nick Pope has become a believer in ET visitors and is to publish a book on his work at Sec (AS).
1995: autumn – ‘Peter’ made a visit to the USA. ‘During this trip Peter was to receive an offer of regression hypnosis, aimed at resolving once and for all what – if anything – had transpired on that toll road.’ (Uninvited, p 197) The hypnosis session lasted 1.5 hours and narrative emerged (p 199 of Uninvited). Peter not prepared to label himself an abductee but ‘he acknowledges that he had been exposed to information about UFOs and abductions prior to his regression.’ (Uninvited, p201).
1995: December (?) Jenny Randles films interview with Pope at Whitehall. She also reads draft of Open Skies-Closed Minds ‘and this told the story of Peter using the real identity of the witness…several others read the manuscript too and indeed were instrumental in setting up the hypnosis of Peter, which was in fact conducted by a UFOlogist…not a medical professional, at least if I understood what was said by that UFOlogist in a public lecture before hundreds of people’ (Project Red Book, September 1999)
1995: In Jane Goldman’s book The X-Files Book of the Unexplained (Simon & Schuster 1995), the following section appears in an extended interview with Pope: “…while Mulder’s desire is not just the truth, but also a resolution to the mystery of his sister’s disappearance, Nick Pope’s purpose is surely more straightforward. Or is it? ‘You could say that, like Fox Mulder, my interest is not purely an academic one and I’m driven by some personal motivations. My primary motivation is the intellectual belief that there is a genuine unknown phenomenon, and my belief in the people’s right to know, but a part of my motivation is a desire to explain some anomalous events in my own past.’…He is reluctant to go into detail but offers: ‘The very furthest I would want to go is to say that there are some events in my past which some people in the UFO lobby would say are some of the factors that are present in cases of abduction. But I want to stay on the fence until I know what happened to me.”
1996: June. Open Skies – Closed Minds published.
1997: June. The Uninvited published; book contains section on Toll-road case, chapter 12.
1999: February 7th. Sunday Times publish article ‘UFO Hunter at MOD ‘kidnapped by aliens’, quoting Jenny Randles.
Spring: 1999: Georgina Bruni accuses Jenny Randles of ‘disrespecting witness confidentiality’ in discussing Peter’s identity with the News of the World.
About the author:
Philip Mantle is a long-standing UFO researcher and author from the UK. He was formerly the Director of Investigations for the British UFO Research Association and the MUFON Representative for England. He is the founder of FLYING DISK PRESS and can be contacted at: http://flyingdiskpress.blogspot.co.uk/