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Alan Turing's family in plea for homosexual pardons

Benedict Cumberbatch plays codebreaker Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. Credit: David Jensen/EMPICS Entertainment

The family of codebreaker Alan Turing - who was played on the big screen by Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game - will visit Downing Street on Monday to demand the Government pardons 49,000 other men persecuted like him for their homosexuality.

Turing, whose work cracking the German military codes was vital to the British war effort against Nazi Germany, was convicted in 1952 for gross indecency with a 19-year-old man. He was chemically castrated, and two years later died from cyanide poisoning in an apparent suicide.

He was given a posthumous royal pardon in 2013 and campaigners want the Government to pardon all the men convicted under the same outdated law.

Turing's great-nephew, Nevil Hunt, his great-niece, Rachel Barnes, and her son, Thomas, will hand over the petition, which was signed by almost half-a-million people.

I consider it to be fair and just that everybody who was convicted under the Gross Indecency Law is given a pardon.

It is illogical that my great uncle has been the only one to be pardoned when so many were convicted of the same crime.

I feel sure that Alan Turing would have also wanted justice for everybody."

– Alan Turing's great-niece Rachel Barnes

Cumberbatch's pardon plea to William and Kate

Benedict Cumberbatch has urged the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to help convince the government to pardon tens of thousands of gay men convicted under outdated indecency laws.

Benedict Cumberbatch has joined the campaign to pardon gay men Credit: Reuters

The film star, who has been nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of gay scientist Alan Turing, added his name to an open letter in The Guardian calling for action. Stephen Fry and gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell are also leading members of the campaign.

Cumberbatch played Turing, the pioneering computer scientist who helped crack the Enigma code, in the film Imitation Game. Turing was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 for being gay, and committed suicide two years later.

Campaigners are calling for the Royal Family to act and convince the Government to pardon 49,000 men who were convicted under the law.

"The UK's homophobic laws made the lives of generations of gay and bisexual men intolerable," the letter reads.

"It is up to young leaders of today including The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to acknowledge this mark on our history and not allow it to stand.

"We call upon Her Majesty's Government to begin a discussion about the possibility of a pardoning all the men, alive or deceased, who like Alan Turing, were convicted."

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Turing's 'distress' letter sent to friends before conviction

A letter sent from Alan Turing to his mathematician friend Norman Routledge shows the codebreaker's worries and "distress" ahead of pleading guilty to gross indecency in 1952.

An excerpt from the communication is printed on the website Letters of Note, citing a Turing biography by Andrew Hodges.

I've now got myself into the kind of trouble that I have always considered to be quite a possibility for me, though I have usually rated it at about 10:1 against.

I shall shortly be pleading guilty to a charge of sexual offences with a young man.

The story of how it all came to be found out is a long and fascinating one, which I shall have to make into a short story one day, but haven't the time to tell you now.

No doubt I shall emerge from it all a different man, but quite who I've not found out.

Glad you enjoyed broadcast. Jefferson certainly was rather disappointing though.

I'm afraid that the following syllogism may be used by some in the future.

Turing believes machines thinkTuring lies with menTherefore machines do not think

Yours in distress,

Alan

– Letter from Alan Turing to Norman Routledge

'Old police trick' revealed Turing's gay relationship

A statue of Alan Turing on a bench in Sackville Gardens, Manchester. Credit: Flickr / Bernt Rostad under Creative Commons agreement

Alan Turing revealed he was gay to the authorities by falling for an "old police trick," New Statesman legal writer David Allen Green reports.

Reporting a theft to police in 1952, Turing was forced to fabricate details of the account to conceal his relationship with a man.

Asked to repeat the account a week later by police, Turing was unable to accurately remember some of those fabricated details, Allen Green writes.

On realising his lies had been exposed, the brilliant mathematician produced a five-page letter admitting untruths as well as describing graphic details of his homosexual relationship.

The statement was enough for police to convict Turing and arrest his partner.

Turing Royal Pardon 'just reward' for code-breaker

News of the royal pardon granted posthumously to Alan Turing has been applauded as a "just reward" for the code-breaker.

Iain Stewart, Conservative MP for Milton Keynes South, who was involved in the campaign to secure a royal pardon, said: "Alan Turing was an incredibly important figure in our history. He was the father of computer science and the originator of the dominant technology of the late 20th century."

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said that the granting of the royal pardon was "long overdue" and called for the same treatment to be given to others convicted in similar circumstances.

He said: "Singling out Turing just because he is famous is wrong. Unlike Alan, many thousands of ordinary gay and bisexual men who were convicted under the same law have never been offered a pardon and will never get one.

"An apology and pardon is due to another 50,000-plus men who were also convicted of consenting, victimless homosexual relationships during the 20th century."

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Miliband 'delighted' at Royal Pardon for Turing

Ed Miliband has spoken of his "delight" that Alan Turing has received a Royal Pardon.

Reacting to the news on Twitter, the Labour leader posted:

Turing issued pardon under Royal Prerogative of Mercy

Dr Alan 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.

Prime Minister pays tribute to 'remarkable' Turing

Prime Minister David Cameron said Alan Turing was a "remarkable man". Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images

David Cameron has paid tribute to Alan Turing for his role in "saving Britain in World War Two" after the famous code-breaker was awarded a a posthumous royal pardon.

The Prime Minister said: "Alan Turing was a remarkable man who played a key role in saving this country in World War Two by cracking the German Enigma code.

"His action saved countless lives. He also left a remarkable national legacy through his substantial scientific achievements, often being referred to as the father of modern computing."

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