Monday 26 February 2018

Apologies are sometimes not enough to right wrongs of past

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.

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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