WALTHAM Forest has been regarded as a magnet for UFOs and alien abductions for many years.

But now the release of secret reports by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has revealed a case which has never been publicised before.

A startled policeman saw an object with six to 12 large white orbs and red and green lights on either side as he was driving through Epping Forest in October 1984.

It made no sound and was moving very slowly towards Chingford, he said.

The officer, who had served for 20 years, was so shocked that he got out of his car to have a closer look before passing on the report to the RAF, which in turn contacted the MoD.

The RAF was sceptical of the claims, saying that because there was a strong wind from the west that day, it looked like it was an aircraft approaching Heathrow.

Many hundreds of similar accounts were made public for the first time when they were released by the National Archives this week.

UFO specialist Roy Lake said: "The MoD should have released the files a lot earlier. I have seen strange lights flying over Pole Hill in Chingford several times."

There have been many sightings of UFOs throughout Waltham Forest over the years.

In 1993 a huge disk-shaped object was seen hovering above an infant school in Leyton. A woman who saw it said it was white and looked as if it was hot metall, and wobbling like liquid metal.

Cigar-shaped objects, some allegedly emitting bright flashing lights, were reported several times in 1997 over Walthamstow High Street and nearby Blackhorse Road.

In 1998, a boomerang-shaped object was seen in the skies above Walthamstow.

The observer told website ufoinfo.com the object was glowing orange and was so high in the sky it could only be seen by binoculars.

It was stationary for a while before speeding off at great speed.

That same year Walthamstow resident Tony Colbourne set up the Essex and London UFO Network.

He reported that on October 11 he saw a golden orb travelling north-easterly, and a few minutes later two white orbs moving north. The next night, he spotted the golden orb again and another white orb, which he claimed expanded before imploding.

In March 1998, Priory Court resident Dean Holt reported seeing two white light-emitting rays across the Walthamstow skyline.

And in 2004, a PR firm called The Fish Can Sing rated Walthamstow as fifth in a list of 40 towns nationwide considered hot spots for alien abductions.