Turing pardon backed by MPs

Alan Turing statue with artist Stephen Kettle
Alan Turing statue with artist Stephen Kettle

THE city’s leading politicians have backed a campaign to see Bletchley Park hero Alan Turing pardoned.

Last week this newspaper threw its weight behind a petition calling for the Government to clear the codebreaker’s name.

And now Milton Keynes’ two MPs and the leader of the council have revealed they would like to see Mr Turing granted a pardon.

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 – a success many attribute as the turning point in the war.

But in 1952, he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ with another man and punished by chemical castration. Just two years later he committed suicide, aged just 41.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown formally apologised to Mr Turing’s family in 2009, but an online petition is now calling on the Government to clear his name. More than 30,000 people have already signed it.

It states that Mr Turing’s treatment ‘remains a shame on the UK government and UK history.’’

But earlier this month Justice Minister Lord McNally refused to do so, saying Mr Turing had been convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence.

This week MPs Iain Stewart and Mark Lancaster, and Milton Keynes Council leader Andrew Geary all joined the call for a pardon.

Member for Milton Keynes South, Mr Stewart said: “I don’t have the power to do anything directly but I think it is appropriate that Alan Turing’s name should be cleared.

“Back in 2009 an apology was made but now something more needs to be done. Given what that man did during the Second World War and the fact he is effectively the father of modern computing I would like to see his name cleared. I will be raising the matter in Parliament to see if there is anything that can be done.”

And gay and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell also backed the campaign.

He said: “Alan Turing was one of the greatest mathematical geniuses of all time. He is the father of modern computing and his war-time role in cracking the Nazi military codes helped save Britain from German conquest.

“His arrest and conviction for a consenting gay relationship, and his subsequent chemical castration to supposedly ‘cure’ his homosexuality, were barbaric, inhuman abuses of a truly outstanding war hero. Removing his security clearance and preventing him from continuing his work at GCHQ was an added insult and humiliation, which ultimately drove him to suicide. With Turing’s death, Britain and the world lost one of its finest intellectual minds.

“A pardon is long overdue. I urge the government to reconsider.

“Turing was one of an estimated 100,000 British men who were convicted for consenting, victimless same-sex relations during the 20th century. These men were criminalised for behaviour that was not a crime between heterosexual men and women.

“The ‘gross indecency’ law under which Turing was convicted remained on the statute book until 2003.”

> To sign the online petition visit http://epetitions.direct.go.uk/petitions/23526

> Your view: Readers call for Alan Turing to be pardoned – see Letters on page 12 and Vox Pop on page 13.