A SOUTHAMPTON UFO enthusiast has welcomed the disclosure of secret Government papers revealing mysterious sightings in Hampshire.

The Ministry of Defence yesterday released never-seen-before documents detailing UFO sightings across the country.

According to the papers, dubbed the X-Files, UFOs were spotted in the skies of Hampshire more than 40 times in the last ten years.

Ernie Sears, one of the original members of the now defunct Southampton UFO Group, welcomed the disclosure of the files.

Click here to watch a video of Hampshire UFOs

The 84-year-old, from Netley, who claims to have been abducted by aliens eight times, said: "We have been waiting for these files to be revealed for years.

"Although they won't convince everyone to believe in UFOs they give us who do a bit of a springboard to carry on our message.

"It's a bit of an advance, and it doesn't do us any harm.

"What's interesting though is that our reports of sightings over Southampton Water in 2001 and 2002 aren't listed among the reported sightings.

"However, as I've said all along, it's not up to us but up to the crews and craft to make their presence felt when they want to."

Information on when and where the sighting took place, as well as what was seen, are included in the listings, which now appear on the Natio-nal Archives website.

Sightings have been on the increase in the county since 2002, with one UFO spotted in 2003, three in 2006 and five last year.

However, the most popular year for spotting UFOs was 1998, with 14 sightings reported.

One caller reported "a stationary object, adjacent to the moon and twice as bright."

Another said they had seen "a single orange light as bright as Venus moving at aircraft speed which hovered then flickered like a flame."

An MoD spokesman said it kept records of UFO sightings to keep check on UK airspace - not to investigate the possibilities of extra-terrestrial life.

He said: "To date, independent experts have concluded that there are realistic explanations behind alleged UFO reports, such as aircraft lights or natural phenomena.

"Reports are examined by the Ministry of Defence solely to establish whether UK airspace may have been compromised by hostile or unauthorised military activity.

"The Ministry of Defence has no other interest or role regarding UFO matters and does not consider questions regarding the existence or otherwise of extraterrestrial life-forms."