Monday 22 January 2018

Turing family in plea over pardons

Benedict Cumberbatch played Alan Turing in The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch played Alan Turing in The Imitation Game

The family of codebreaker Alan Turing - who was brought to the big screen by Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game - will visit Downing Street tomorrow to demand the Government pardons 49,000 other men persecuted like him for their homosexuality.

Turing, whose work cracking the German military codes was vital to the British war effort against Nazi Germany, was convicted in 1952 for gross indecency with a 19-year-old man, was chemically castrated, and two years later died from cyanide poisoning in an apparent suicide.

He was given a posthumous royal pardon in 2013 and campaigners want the Government to pardon all the men convicted under the outdated law.

Turing's great-nephew, Nevil Hunt, his great-niece, Rachel Barnes, and her son, Thomas, will hand over the petition, which attracted almost half-a-million signatures on the website Change.org, to No 10 Downing Street.

Ms Barnes, 52, from Taunton, said: " I consider it to be fair and just that everybody who was convicted under the Gross Indecency Law is given a pardon. It is illogical that my great uncle has been the only one to be pardoned when so many were convicted of the same crime.

"I feel sure that Alan Turing would have also wanted justice for everybody."

The editor of Attitude Magazine, Matthew Todd, who will also visit Downing Street, said: " Generations of gay and bisexual men were forced to live their lives in a state of terror.

"Men convicted of gross indecency were often considered to have brought huge shame on their families and many took their own lives. We still live with the legacy of this period today and it's about time the country addressed this appalling part of our history."

Cumberbatch's Oscar-nominated portrayal of Turing has brought the pioneering scientist's story to a wider audience.

The film follows him from his days working as a Second World War code breaker at Bletchley Park to his work at Manchester University, which saw him hailed as the father of modern computing, and his tragic death.

Turing led a team decoding messages at Bletchley Park, whose work remained secret until many years after the war's end, and also designed the "bombe" machine which decrypted German messages.

Their work helped shorten the conflict and saved many thousands of lives.

Press Association

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