Feeds

Stephen Hawking pushes for posthumous pardon for Alan Turing

Lords and boffins urge PM to forgive 'iconic British hero'

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Peers and scientists including Professor Stephen Hawking are once again pushing for an official pardon for codebreaker Alan Turing.

Turing's death from cyanide poisoning in 1954 was ruled a suicide, coming after his conviction for gross indecency at a time when homosexuality was illegal.

Lib Dem peer Lord Sharkey has already introduced a Private Members' Bill in the House of Lords over the summer to try to get a pardon for Turing, who is credited with helping to end World War II by breaking German encryption at Bletchley Park.

If that bill is passed by both Houses of Parliament, Turing could get an official pardon without consent from the government.

But Lord Grade, Conservative peer, wants the prime minister to use his own authority to pardon Turing. In a written question on Tuesday, he asked the government if they would reconsider their decision not to grant the pardon.

In 2009, then Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologised for Turing's appalling treatment, but he wouldn't formally pardon him for his "crime". A letter to the coalition government also failed to achieve a pardon in February this year.

Justice Minister Lord McNally said this week that the government only handed out pardons in cases where the convicted person could be proved to have been innocent.

"Dr Turing's conviction, essentially for homosexual activity, was the result of an offence which we would now consider discriminatory and which has now been repealed. This was a shocking and inappropriate fate for someone who had contributed so much to science and to the defence of his country," he said in answer to Lord Grade's written question.

"However, it is long-standing government policy that pardons under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy should be reserved for cases where it can be established that the convicted person was innocent of the relevant offence, and not to undo the effects of legislation which we now recognise as wrong."

Lords Grade and Sharkey have signed a letter sent to The Telegraph asking again for the pardon. Professor Stephen Hawking, the Astronomer Royal Lord Rees, Sir Paul Nurse, head of the Royal Society and Baroness Trumpington, who worked for Turing at Bletchley Park during the war, have all co-signed the letter.

The letter urges David Cameron to "formally forgive the iconic British hero".

The peers and scientists may feel they have a better case for Turing now, after the government introduced legislation earlier this year to take the "offence" of homosexuality off people's criminal record if they had previously been convicted of it. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.