Thursday 8 December 2016

Apologies are sometimes not enough to right wrongs of past

Published 17/12/2012 | 17:00

ALAN Turing is sometimes described as the greatest British mathematician of the 20th Century and the father of the computer era, whose outstanding skill at code-breaking probably shortened World War II by two years. But he was convicted of homosexual offences in 1952 and two years later died by cyanide poisoning.

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Now there is a growing campaign, led by Stephen Hawking and other scientists, to have Turing officially pardoned for his 'crime' of having a homosexual relationship with a young Manchester man.

Turing was originally sentenced to prison, but accepted "chemical castration" – a series of oestrogen injections – instead. Even so, he was subjected to extra surveillance by British intelligence, who regarded homosexuals as a security risk, and his working life was made wretched. His suicide, at the age of 42, robbed science and mathematics of a brilliant brain.

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