Fight to pardon Turing enters House of Lords

Turing
Computer genius: Turing Photo: ITV Anglia

Campaigners attempting to grant a posthumous pardon to Alan Turing took their fight to the House of Lords today.

Turing, the father of modern computing and artificial intelligence, was convicted of being gay at a time when it was illegal in Britain. When authorities discovered the truth about his sexuality, he was sentenced to endure horrific hormone treatment to avoid imprisonment, labelled a security risk and forced from his job as a code breaker. It's thought Turing committed suicide in 1954 by biting into an apple laced with cyanide.

The mathematical genius helped crack the Engima code in World War Two at Bletchley Park, but the closest he came to obtaining a pardon was in 2009, the British government made a public apology to him. 2012 marks the centenary of Turing's birth.

Now Liberal Democrats Lord Sharkey and John Leech MP have joined forces to grant a pardon to the form er Cambridge student.

Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Sharkey is introducing a Private Members Bill to the House of Lords, a Bill which will, if it becomes law, grant a pardon to Dr Turing. John Leech MP will then take the Bill through the Commons to make the Bill law.

John Leech MP said, “We have been negotiating with the government hard on this. Lord Sharkey will take this through the Lords and I will take it through the Commons. We are fully expecting Lords and MPs to back this Bill. It’s only right that we acknowledge the government at the time was wrong and justice can be brought to Alan Turing who was wrongly persecuted.”

Lord Sharkey who is introducing the Private Member’s Bill in the House of Lords today said,

“Alan Turing helped save this country. His work on cracking the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park during World War II undoubtedly changed the course of the war and saved many thousands of lives.

But instead of being rewarded by his country, he was cruelly punished and convicted simply for being gay. If my Bill becomes law, as I hope it will, then this will finally go some way towards acknowledging the debt we all owe to Alan Turing and grant him the free pardon he so clearly deserves.”