“Here is someone who we are very happy to celebrate and talk about as a genius but who we are not able to forgive for having the ‘wrong’ sexual orientation, as it was seen in the 1960s. I do not think anybody would object to granting a pardon. Any right-minded citizen of this country ought to be keen to see a hero recognised.”
Nick Collins for the Telegraph
Alan Turing, the British codebreaker, should be pardoned posthumously over his historic conviction for homosexuality, Prof Stephen Hawking and other leading scientists have said.
In a letter to the Telegraph, Prof Hawking and ten other signatories call on the Prime Minister to “formally forgive” Turing, whose work at Bletchley Park is widely credited with helping bring an end to the Second World War.
Turing died from cyanide poisoning in 1954 after being convicted of gross indecency at a time when homosexuality was still illegal, and an inquest found he had committed suicide.
Lord Sharkey, the Lib Dem peer and one of the signatories on today’s letter, introduced a private members bill in the House of Lords to grant the mathematical genius an official pardon this summer.
Other signatories include Lord Rees, the Astronomer Royal, Sir Paul Nurse, the head of the Royal Society, and Baroness Trumpington, who worked for Turing at Bletchley Park during the war.
Describing the codebreaker as “one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the modern era”, the letter pays tribute to his “astonishing achievement” in breaking the German Enigma code.