Royal pardon for World War Two code breaker Alan Turing from Hampton

This Is Local London: Alan Turing lived in Hampton just after the war Alan Turing lived in Hampton just after the war

World War Two code breaker Alan Turing, who killed himself after receiving a criminal conviction for his homosexuality, has been given a royal pardon.

The mathematician, who lived in Hampton from 1945 to 1947, was pivotal in cracking the German Enigma codes, which gave allied leaders vital information about Hitler’s forces.

A blue plaque commemorates Turing at his former home in Ivy House, Hampton High Street.

Historians credit the work of Turing and his team with shortening the war by up to two years, saving countless lives.

He is seen as the father of computer science and artificial intelligence but in 1952 was convicted for homosexual activity, which was illegal at the time.

To avoid prison he agreed to chemical castration but his conviction led to the removal of his security clearance and meant he was no longer able to work as a code breaker.

In 1954, aged 41, he died of cyanide poisoning. His inquest recorded a verdict of suicide but his family and others maintained his death was accidental.

The Queen will grant the posthumous pardon today, Christmas Eve, after it was requested by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, who described Turing as a national hero.

He 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conviction for homosexual activity, a sentence we would now consider unjust and discriminatory and which has now been repealed.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.”

The pardon is only the fourth since World War Two to be granted under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy.

Many people campaigned for years to win a pardon for Turing.

In 2009 the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a public apology for Turing’s treatment but did not secure a pardon.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Alan Turing was a remarkable man who played a key role in saving this country in World War Two 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’.”

 

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