Alan Turing, the legendary Second World War cryptanalyst who was convicted of the crime of homosexuality in 1952, has been granted a posthumous pardon by the Queen.
There’s no question that Alan Turing’s work leading the successful effort to crack Germany’s Enigma code during the Second World War saved countless lives, but he was also an extremely influential early pioneer in the field of computer science, and the “Turing Test” he devised in 1950 remains relevant in the field of artificial intelligence to this day. He was also homosexual, which was very sadly a crime in Britain until 1967, and that led to his arrest in 1952 after a fight with a former lover. He opted for chemical castration over a prison sentence but committed suicide two years later.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown offered a formal apology for Turing’s treatment in 2009 but in 2012 the British government refused to issue a pardon, saying that it would be inappropriate to pardon someone who was “properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offense.”
Yesterday, however, Turing was granted a royal pardon by Queen Elizabeth II. “Dr Alan Turing was an exceptional man with a brilliant mind,” U.K. Minister of Justice Chris Grayling said. “Turing deserves to be remembered and recognized 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.”
Royal pardons are normally granted only when a person has been found innocent of the convicted offense and a request for pardon has been made by a family member, neither of which occurred in Turing’s case. A Ministry of Justice representative explained, “Uniquely on this occasion a pardon has been issued without either requirement having been met, reflecting the exceptional nature of Alan Turing’s achievements.”
Source: The Telegraph