Renowned scientist and World War II code-breaker Dr Alan Turing has been given a posthumous pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy by the Queen today following a request from Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.
There has been a long campaign to clear Dr Turing’s name, including a well-supported e-petition and Private Member’s Bill along with support from leading scientists such as Sir Stephen Hawking, and members of the public.
The pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy will come into effect today helping to clear the name of a man who has often been described as the ‘father of modern computing’.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said:
Dr Alan Turing was an exceptional man with a brilliant mind. 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conviction for homosexual activity, a sentence we would now consider unjust and discriminatory and which has now been repealed.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.
PM David Cameron said:
Alan Turing was a remarkable man who played a key role in saving this country in World War 2 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’.
Dr Turing was convicted in 1952 for homosexual activity which was illegal at the time and resulted in a sentence of ‘chemical castration’. As well as physical and emotional damage, his conviction 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. During his time there he was pivotal in breaking the ‘Enigma’ code, arguably shortening the Second World War by at least two years.
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. Uniquely on this occasion a pardon has been issued without either requirement being met, reflecting the exceptional nature of Alan Turing’s achievements.