Saturday 19 April 2014

Hero World War Two codebreaker granted pardon

Alan Turing, the World War Two codebreaker, was convicted for his homosexuality

Alan Turing has finally been granted a pardon for his conviction for homosexuality

Alan Turing, the wartime codebreaker, has been granted a posthumous pardon by the Queen for his criminal conviction for homosexuality.

Dr Turing, who helped Britain to win World War II, killed himself after receiving the conviction in 1952.

He has now been granted a pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy after a high-profile campaign supported by tens of thousands of people including Professor Stephen Hawking.

David Cameron said: "Alan Turing was a remarkable man who played a key role in saving this country in World War Two by cracking the German Enigma code.

"His action saved countless lives. He also left a remarkable national legacy through his substantial scientific achievements, often being referred to as the father of modern computing."

Dr Turing, a "genius" mathematician, was a codebreaker at Bletchley Park, where he invented the machine which cracked the Enigma codes used by German U-boats in the Atlantic. Historians believe his work may have shortened the war by two years.

However, despite the importance of his work Dr Turing was convicted of gross indecency for having a relationship with a 19-year-old.

At that time homosexuality was illegal, and he chose to be chemically castrated with injections of female hormones rather than go to jail. He committed suicide two years later.

In 2009 Gordon Brown, the then Labour Prime Minister, made a public apology for Mr Turing's treatment, but at the time ministers said it was not possible to overturn his conviction for gross indecency.

Last year ministers rejected a motion which would have helped to clear the way for Mr Turing to be granted Parliamentary Pardon because Mr Turing was "properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence".

The government dropped its opposition to a similar motion this year, but has decided to request a Royal pardon for Dr Turing.

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, said: “Dr Alan Turing was an exceptional man with a brilliant mind. His brilliance was put into practice at Bletchley Park during the Second World War where he was pivotal to breaking the ‘Enigma’ code, helping to end the war and save thousands of lives.

“Dr Turing deserves to be remembered and recognised for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science. A pardon from the Queen is a fitting tribute to an exceptional man.”

The pardon states: "Now know ye that we, in consideration of circumstances humbly represented to us, are graciously pleased to grant our grace and mercy unto the said Alan Mathison Turing and grant him our free pardon posthumously in respect of the said convictions."

A royal pardon is rare, and usually only granted where a person has been found innocent of an offence and a request has been made by a family member.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "Uniquely on this occasion a pardon has been issued without either requirement having been met, reflecting the exceptional nature of Alan Turing's achievements."

Iain Stewart, Conservative MP for Milton Keynes South, who was involved in the campaign to secure a royal pardon, said: "Alan Turing was an incredibly important figure in our history. He was the father of computer science and the originator of the dominant technology of the late 20th century.

"He made a huge impact on the world he lived in and left a legacy for the world of today and tomorrow. This royal pardon is a just reward for a man who was stripped of his honour, his work, and the loyalty he showed his nation.”

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