‘Time his reputation was unblemished’: Top scientists call on government to pardon Manchester’s Alan Turing

By Andrew Bardsley

Some of the country’s top scientists are calling on the government to grant a pardon to Manchester war-time code breaker Alan Turing.

Turing – who worked on early computers at the University of Manchester – committed suicide in 1954 after being charged with gross indecency because homosexuality was still illegal at the time.

Professor Steven Hawking is one of 11 scientists who wrote to the Daily Telegraph to urge the government to issue a posthumous pardon.

They wrote: “We write in support of a posthumous pardon for Alan Turing, one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the modern era.

“He led the team of Enigma codebreakers at Bletchley Park, which most historians agree shortened the Second World War.”

Turing was part of the team at top-secret WWII decryption centre Bletchley Park which cracked the Nazi’s Enigma code.

Gordon Brown issued an apology for Turing’s treatment in 2009, and a Private Member’s Bill was put forward in May to bring about a pardon.

“Successive governments seem incapable of forgiving his conviction for the then crime of being a homosexual, which led to his suicide, aged 41.

“It is time his reputation was unblemished.”

A memorial to Turing was unveiled on Sackville Street in 2001, between the University of Manchester buildings on Whitworth Road and the gay village on Canal Street.

The other signatories are Lord Grade of Yarmouth, Astronomer Royal Lord Rees, The Royal Society’s Sir Paul Nurse, Lord Currie of Marylebone, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, Sir Timothy Gowers of Cambridge University, Baroness Trumpington, Lord Sharkey, Lord Smith of Finsbury and the Science Museum’s Dr Douglas Gurr.

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