Admiral of the Fleet Lord Hill-Norton, GCB
It often comes as a surprise to members of the general public that research into the UFO subject enjoys some enthusiastic support at the highest level of British society. A fine example of this was the active interest shown by the late Peter Hill-Norton, who rose through the ranks of the Royal Navy to become Admiral of the Fleet Lord Hill-Norton. Paying tribute to his illustrious career, The Times noted that:
“Peter Hill-Norton crowned a long and estimable naval career by his chairmanship of NATO’s Military Committee, a post which requires the incumbent to have been his own nation’s Chief of Defence Staff and to have a reputation that satisfies the governments of all the NATO countries”. (1)
Hill-Norton ‘steered a safe path through Cold War tension’ during his chairmanship between 1974 and 1977, a remarkable achievement in itself. It was his reputation for excellence and traditionalism within the armed services that seems so incongruous, to some, when laid alongside Lord Hill-Norton’s very public interest in UFOs. He founded the pressure group UFO Concern, wrote the forward to three of Timothy Good’s books, including ‘Unearthly Disclosure’ (2), and raised the matter of secrecy surrounding several British UFO incidents in the House of Lords. Upon chairing the House of Lord’s investigation into UFOs, he publicly criticised the Ministry of Defence for destroying UFO-related documents after just 5 years in the archives.
His erstwhile attempts to glean a chink of light in the armour of Whitehall over UFOs earned him the universal respect of researchers in the field, but must have embarrassed many in the Government who prefer to maintain strict silence in the ranks on the subject. But he was not one to be batted down.
The Telegraph described him as ‘formidable’, and noted that he ‘also had a reputation for being one of the rudest men in the Royal Navy’ (3). For instance, in 1982 he lambasted the Defence Secretary, John Nott, for having no understanding of defence and ‘no apparent inclination to learn’ and once called Michael Portillo a ‘little creep’ for planning to privatise London’s historic Admiralty Arch. Perhaps that formidable ‘rudeness’ is exactly what is required to make any real progress on the UFO subject when tackling the British Government head-on! If so, the passing of Lord Hill-Norton represents a sad day for the UFO community world-wide. Moreover, it is doubtful that any other peer or Member of Parliament will become such a fearsome and forthright advocate of Ufology, particularly in these dark days.
Much has been written about his Naval career in the mainstream obituaries, quite rightly of course, but less emphasis has been placed on his interest in UFOs than one might have expected, or hoped. His advocacy of Ufology is barely mentioned in The Independent (4) or The Guardian (5), and is more or less scorned in The Telegraph (3). This is a pity because he was no apologist or fellow traveller regarding UFOs. He was quite convinced that there was a significant reality behind the phenomenon, and that the truth should be urgently sought. He once wrote:
“Let me go over to the attack – UFO protagonists now have no need to be defensive, if they ever had”. (2).
The Times was more accommodating, quoting him at length on the subject:
“I have asked a number of questions about the base [RAF Feltwell in Suffolk] and never get a satisfactory answer” he was on record as saying. “There are no man-made objects in interstellar space, so I want to know what they are really doing. And I want to know what the Government is doing about the UFO problem. There is overwhelming evidence that there are physical objects in Earth’s atmosphere and they are not man-made.” (1)
The author and researcher Timothy Good paid this tribute to Lord Hill-Norton, his friend and associate for 24 years:
“He was a courageous and outspoken supporter of our cause, and I shall never forget his unwavering support for my work – particularly in his forewords to my books, often in the face of derision from the media.” (6)
Lord Hill-Norton is survived by his wife, Margaret Linstow, and their daughter, and son, Vice-Admiral Sir Nicholas Hill-Norton.
© Andy Lloyd, 2nd June 2004
1) Obituary, “Chief of Defence Staff who, as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, steered a safe path through Cold War Tension”, The Times, 19th May 2004
2) Foreword to Timothy Good’s “Unearthly Disclosure” Century, 2000
3) Obituary, “Talented Naval Officer who thought politicians weak when confronted by the Soviet threat”, The Telegraph 19th May 2004
4) Obituary “Leading the Navy with aplomb” The Guardian, 20th May 2004
5) Obituary “Energetic First Sea Lord and Chief of the Defence Staff who became a nautical small-screen A.J.P. Taylor” The Independent, 20th May 2004
6) Correspondence from Timothy Good, 31st May 2004, with thanks for the enclosed broadsheet obituaries.