Lords turn down Alan Turing pardon bid

Alan Turing
Alan Turing

A CAMPAIGN backed by supporters in Hastings to grant Alan Turing a pardon for homosexuality convictions has been rejected by the Government.

The government has given an initial rebuff to the campaign to clear the father of the computer who grew up in St Leonards.

An online petition had collected more than 23,000 signatures.

But Justice Minister Lord McNally dismissed the motion in the House of Lords.

He said: “A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriateas Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence.”

In 2009 former Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued an apology labelling the treatment he had received as “utterly unfair” and “appalling.”

One of the those who signed the petition was Sarah Owen, prospective parliamentary candidate for Hastings.

Miss Owen, who recently attended the Hastings & Rother Rainbow Alliance Out of the Closet day, said: “The past criminalisation of homosexuals was wrong then and is still wrong now.

“The decision not to pardon our war hero and mathematical genius is disappointing for many of us who backed the petition.

“But it stands as an important reminder that supporting the great work of organisations like HRRA in their aims for a more equal society, is still as relevant as it has ever been.”

During the Second World War, Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre.

For a time he was head of Hut Eight, the section responsible for German naval cryptanalysis. He devised a number of techniques for breaking German ciphers, including the method of the bombe, an electromechanical machine that could find settings for the Enigma machine. It was the forerunner of the modern computer.

Turing was convicted of homosexuality in 1952 and underwent chemical castration as an alternative to prison. He committed suicide in 1954 by swallowing cyanide poisoning.

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