Loch Ness monster existed 'beyond doubt' - police chief
A top police officer believed that the fabled Loch Ness Monster in Scotland existed "beyond doubt", a file released from archives shows.
William Fraser, the chief constable of Inverness-shire, expressed concerns about protecting the "strange creature" from hunters, in a letter to a British government minister in 1938 made public on Monday.
Writing to the Under Secretary of State in the Scottish Office, Fraser said: "That there is some strange creature in Loch Ness now seems beyond doubt. But that the police have any power to protect it is very doubtful."
His warning came five years after the British government was asked to confirm the existence of a monster or sea serpent in Loch Ness, following sightings and the publication of articles and grainy photographs.
A question was tabled in the British parliament asking whether a scientific investigation would be made into the existence of the monster.
Ministers and civil servants were sceptical but it was proposed that "reliable observers" equipped to take photographs could be stationed around the loch. It was also suggested that aerial observation could be undertaken.
The aim was to prove the monster's existence with an attempt to trap it alive the next step.
Eventually, it was felt that as the existence of the monster provided public interest and amusement, it would be better to leave it in peace rather than risk harming it, according to the archive.
But the decision failed to deter monster hunters from flocking to Loch Ness in a vain bid to catch "Nessie".
This caused alarm among local residents and concerns were expressed by the police chief and others that the government should take measures to protect the creature from hunting expeditions.
The file was by the National Archives of Scotland (NAS) as part of an exhibition called "An Open Secret" about changes in government attitudes to records.
© 2010 AFP