SHADOW Justice Minister Sadiq Khan has written an open letter to the people of Milton Keynes backing this newspaper’s campaign to pardon codebreaker Alan Turing.
Mr Turing was one of the key figures at Bletchley Park during the Second World War and led the team which eventually cracked the Enigma code, which many attribute as the turning point of the war.
But after the war, his life began to fall apart.
In 1952, he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ with another man and punished by chemical castration. Two year later he committed suicide, aged just 41.
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown formally apologised to Mr Turing’s family in 2009, but despite an online petition – which now has more than 37,000 signatures – calling for him to be pardoned the Government has so far refused to do so.
The Citizen added our name to those calling for a pardon in February.
And now Labour politician Mr Khan, backed by Milton Keynes parliamentary candidate Andrew Pakes, has joined the ranks of those asking for the conviction against the codebreaking hero to be scrapped.
Mr Pakes said: “I welcome Sadiq’s backing for the campaign to grant a pardon for Alan Turing.
“This is a significant move and means that, with Labour’s support, there should be the numbers in Parliament to win a vote on the issue. I would urge the Government to consider working with MPs from across all parties to see a pardon granted.”
To sign the online petition, visit epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/23526
Mr Khan’s letter reads:
‘This year has been an incredible year for Britain. This summer when we hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games we showed ourselves at our very best: a country with progressive values, an inclusive and diverse society coming together to show what we can do. Milton Keynes produced its own homegrown hero in long jumper Greg Rutherford.
The last time we hosted the Olympic Games was in 1948, shortly after the defeat of fascism, in a Britain facing the challenges of rebuilding a nation after the Second World War. It is right, then, that this year we also remember the code-breakers of Bletchley Park and celebrate the centenary of Alan Turings birth. But we also have unfinished business.
Alan Turing was a brilliant mathematician, who paid a heavy price for being gay in an age where it was still a crime. Following his conviction for gross indecency in 1952 he faced chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones. Two years later he took his own life.
In 2009, Gordon Brown took the important step as Prime Minister of making a public apology to Alan Turing. He wrote: It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of the Second World War could have been very differentThe debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely.
It has been inspiring to see the coalition of academics, mathematicians, historians and LGBT activists that have joined together to call for Alan Turing to receive a posthumous pardon. Alan was one of many thousands of gay men who were convicted under homophobic laws which have now rightly been wiped off the statute book. Millions of other gay men lived in fear of persecution.
The Government says it cannot turn back the clock and pardon Alan Turing. But one hundred years on from his birth, it is time for us to correct the historical wrong. I have listened to the arguments of all sides about whether a pardon would be legal. Thanks to the work of the Milton Keynes Citizen and Bletchley Park this has become an important campaign in the city and nationally. I have listened to the case by Andrew Pakes, your Labour Parliamentary Candidate, about the need for change. It would be a fitting tribute in this centenary year of Alan Turings birth for the Government to grant him a pardon’.