Tag Archives: Alan Turing

Alan Turing receives royal pardon

turingPardon_2774412c

Photo credit: The Telegraph

Here is the official press release on the Royal Pardon for Alan Turing.


Pardon for WW2 Code-breaker Turing

By Jamie Grierson, Press Association Home Affairs Correspondent

Second World War code-breaker Alan Turing has been given a posthumous royal pardon for a 61-year-old conviction for homosexual activity. Dr Turing, who was pivotal in breaking the Enigma code, arguably shortening the Second World War by at least two years, was chemically castrated following his conviction in 1952.

His conviction for “gross indecency” led to the removal of his security clearance and meant he was no longer able to work for Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) where he had continued to work following service at Bletchley Park during the war.

Dr Turing, who died aged 41 in 1954 and is often described as the father of modern computing, has been granted a pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy by the Queen following a request from Justice Secretary Chris Grayling. “Dr Alan Turing was an exceptional man with a brilliant mind,”

Mr Grayling said.

 “His brilliance was put into practice at Bletchley Park during the Second World War where he was pivotal to breaking the Enigma code, helping to end the war and save thousands of lives.

“His later life was overshadowed by his conviction for homosexual activity, a sentence we would now consider unjust and discriminatory and which has now been repealed.

“Dr Turing deserves to be remembered and recognised for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science. A pardon from the Queen is a fitting tribute to an exceptional man.”

Dr Turing died of cyanide poisoning and an inquest recorded a verdict of suicide, although his mother and others maintained his death was accidental.

There has been a long campaign to clear the mathematician’s name, including a well-supported e- petition and private member’s bill, along with support from leading scientists such as Sir Stephen Hawking.

The pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy will come into effect today. The Justice Secretary has the power to ask the Queen to grant a pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy, for civilians convicted in England and Wales.

A pardon is only normally granted when the person is innocent of the offence and where a request has been made by someone with a vested interest such as a family member. But on this occasion a pardon has been issued without either requirement being met.

In September 2009, then-prime minister Gordon Brown apologised to Dr Turing for prosecuting him as a homosexual after a petition calling for such a move.

An e-petiton – titled “Grant a pardon to Alan Turing” – received 37,404 signatures when it closed in November last year. The request was declined by Lord McNally on the grounds that Dr Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence.


S. Barry Cooper, a University of Leeds mathematician who has written about Turing’s work, added the comments below:

This is a historic event, coming just before the 60th anniversary of Alan Turing’s passing in Manchester on June 7th, 1954. The historic injustice can never be undone, but it is wonderful that the Government has officially restored Turing’s reputation, and removed the distraction from his amazing scientific and personal achievements.

There are still thousands of others whose lives were changed forever by the law ‘as it was at the time’. No doubt, having shown that we can be generous and do what is necessary regarding Turing, the situation of others will get more consideration.

All thanks must go to the host of wonderful people who have prepared the ground over the years – one hesitates to mention any names, because there were so many, including subscribers to this list.

But, … many thanks to Andrew Hodges for his truly marvellous biography of Turing – there have been others, with their own special qualities (such as being shorter!), but Andrew’s is one of the all-time great biographies, and has done much to help us understand both man and his thinking.

Both UK Government petitions raised the issue of the conviction. The first, initiated by John Graham-Cummings, leading to the Gordon Brown ‘apology’, was a break-through in our thinking, and brought over 30,000 people into the campaign.

The William Jones petition mentioned by Chris Grayling showed you could do it twice! and get even more signatures, building on John’s initiative and the excitement and world-wide reach of the 2012 centenary celebrations.

And then Lord Sharkey, with his private members bill, and John Leech MP carrying the bill forward to the Commons – and a whole spectrum of MPs from different parties, and other famous figures lending their support.

And finally, Chris Grayling cutting through the formalities with such decisive effect, and with such nice timing.

On the broader front there was a coming together of many different communities. The gay community, mathematicians, computer scientists and scientists from many areas, artists, musicians, creative thinkers and artists of all kinds, many for very personal reasons, some on the autistic spectrum empowered by the iconic example of Turing’s history.

And the international dimension has been fantastic, moving, exciting, generous, and totally engrossing in its variety and interest. And our friends in the media have been great too … the list is a long one.

See also: Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing receives royal pardon

Alan Turing documentary

Here’s a teaser for a film,  The Genius of Alan Turing Film, currently under production.

It will be a documentary about the life and contributions of Alan Turing. The centenary of his birth is being marked next year (see Celebrating Alan Turing’s life and achievements). I hope it gets a wide circulation because Turing really doesn’t get the attention he deserves in the public mind.

Turing Documentary

The website for the documentary describes it this way:

Alan Turing is one of the most important scientists who ever lived. He set in motion the digital revolution and his World War II code breaking helped save two million lives. Yet few people alive today have ever heard his name or know his story. A documentary film is being developed to change this. 100 years after his birth, an international production team is set to take viewers on a journey to rediscover the man and the mystery.

Alan Turing was a flamboyant Technicolor genius yet instead of accolades and respect, he faced prosecution by the British government because he was gay. In 1954, Turing committed suicide at age 41 after being forced to undergo hormone therapy to “fix” his sexual orientation. He  left behind a lasting legacy and lingering questions about what else he might have accomplished if society had embraced his unique genius instead of rejecting it.

Research and development for this feature-length drama documentary is underway; with plans to reach many millions of viewers around the world online and through broadcast and theatrical release of the film.

The international production team includes Turing’s preeminent biographer Dr. Andrew Hodges.  Funding is currently being lined up for the film, with a goal for completion in mid-2012, to coincide with the centenary of Turing’s birth.

Turing Centers

A Commons Select Committee in the UK House of Parliament is recommending commemorating Alan Turing in the naming of a network of Technology and Innovation Centres. The proposal is to call them “Turing Centres.”

Andrew Miller MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

“Alan Turing played a significant role in the creation of the modern computer. He was an accomplished mathematician who was highly influential in the development of computer science. It would be a fitting tribute to honour his contribution to the development of modern computing technology by naming the network of TICs ‘Turing Centres’.”

Thanks to Patrick Sammon, co-producer.

See also:
Celebrating Alan Turing’s life and achievements
The Genius of Alan Turing Blog
“We’re sorry: you deserved so much better”

Similar articles

Celebrating Alan Turing’s life and achievements

This is something to look forward to -  THE ALAN TURING YEAR.

Alan Turing: Credit Psychology Wiki

June 23, 2012, is the Centenary of Alan Turing’s birth in London. During his relatively brief life, Turing made a unique impact on the history of computing, computer science, artificial intelligence, developmental biology, and the mathematical theory of computability.

2012 will be a celebration of Turing’s life and scientific impact, with a number of major events taking place throughout the year. Most of these will be linked to places with special significance in Turing’s life, such as Cambridge, Manchester and Bletchley Park.

The Turing Year is coordinated by the Turing Centenary Advisory Committee (TCAC), representing a range of expertise and organisational involvement in the 2012 celebrations. Organisations and individuals wanting to contribute ideas or support for the Turing Year are invited to contact any of the current TCAC members.

Thanks to the THE ALAN TURING YEAR website for the above information. Twitterers can keep up with plans and activities  by following @AlanTuringYear

Events: The website provides information on events throughout the word – including at least one in New Zealand - Gibbons Memorial Lecture Series 2012, Auckland, New Zealand. Contact: Bob Doran

“We’re sorry: you deserved so much better”

Alan TuringThese words concluded the British Government’s apology for the treatment of Alan Turing whose conviction in 1952 for being homosexual led to his suicide. Gordon Brown’s statement came in response to a petition calling for the apology.

The full text of the apology from Number10.gov.uk – the official website of the UK Prime Minister (see Treatment of Alan Turing was “appalling” – PM ):

Continue reading