SECOND World War code-breaker Alan Turing has been given a posthumous royal pardon for a 61-year-old conviction for homosexual activity, it was announced today.
Dr Turing, who was pivotal in breaking the German Enigma code, arguably shortening the Second World War by at least two years, was chemically castrated following his conviction in 1952.
His conviction for “gross indecency” 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.
Dr Turing, who died aged 41 in 1954 and is often described as the instrumental figure in modern computing, has been granted a pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy by the Queen following a request from Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.
He said: “Dr Alan Turing was an exceptional man with a brilliant mind.”
“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conviction for homosexual activity, a sentence we would now consider unjust and discriminatory and which has now been repealed.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.”
Prime Minister David Cameron also paid tribute.
He said: “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 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.
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.