The government is covering up the truth about UFO sightings, a leading former Ministry of Defence expert has claimed.

The Royal Air Force is set to declassify a cache of UFO sighting files this spring into the public domain.

The UK Government's UFO unit closed in 2009 after concluding that in more than 50 years they had never received any hard evidence of a potential extraterrestrial threat.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “It had been assessed that it would be better to publish these records, rather than continue sending documents to the National Archives, and so they are looking to put them onto a dedicated gov.uk web page.”

Ahead of the release, Nick Pope – who investigated UFOs for the MoD – has said the government should show greater transparency.

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He said: “I'm not surprised there's such a high level of belief in a government cover-up. I know from first-hand experience that the authorities haven't always been as forthcoming as they might have been about their level of interest in UFOs.

“This survey shows high levels of interest and belief in UFOs and extra-terrestrial life.

"I think it reflects a number of recent revelations, including the declassified videos of US Navy jets chasing UFOs, and the news that the UK government is about to release more of its UFO files.”

Pope is now calling on governments to take the matter seriously and enact contingency plans in the event of an alien invasion.

He added: “There needs to be a government plan for first contact with extraterrestrials – irrespective of whether they turn out to be hostile or friendly.

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"Even if you think it's unlikely, it's common sense to have a plan for something when the consequences would be so impactful.”

It comes as a poll of 2,000 people found 50% believe in aliens and there is a real risk to world order from a War of the Worlds style extraterrestrial attack.

Those people also believe an attack within the next 50 years is possible.

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The study also found nearly three quarters believe that worldwide governments are hiding information, fearing they know more about extraterrestrial life than they're letting on.

More than two-thirds reckon authorities should have a plan for first contact with other life forms.

Of the alien believers surveyed, 71 % think Earth has already been visited at some point by aliens, suspecting it happened thousands of years ago – but 29% imagine they’re yet to make their first landing.

War of the Worlds airs on FOX at 9pm on Thursdays

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