Lib Dem John Sharkey publishes bill to pardon Alan Turing

MPs may have gone back to their constituencies for the Summer, but the House of Lords is still sitting. Liberal Democrat Peer John Sharkey has today introduced a Private Members’ Bill which, if passed, would grant a pardon to brilliant mathematician Alan Turing. During the Second World War, Turing’s work on cracking the Enigma Code saved lives and shortened the conflict.

Turing was convicted of gross indecency with a man in 1952 and committed suicide two years later after being subjected to hormone treatment. Gordon Brown apologised in 2009 for the way he was treated.

Speaking as the Bill was launched, John Sharkey said:

Alan Turing helped save this country. His work on cracking the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park during World War II undoubtedly changed the course of the war and saved many thousands of lives.

But instead of being rewarded by his country, he was cruelly punished and convicted simply for being gay. If my Bill becomes law, as I hope it will, then this will finally go some way towards acknowledging the debt we all owe to Alan Turing and grant him the free pardon he so clearly deserves.

ITV reports that Sharkey will lead the Bill through the Lords and then Manchester MP John Leech, a long time fan of Turing, will pilot it through the Commons. There is cross party support in both houses for it.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Richard Dean 25th Jul '12 - 4:10pm

    Was Turing the only person in this situation? Shouldn’t the pardon be extended to others who have sufferred what is now recognized as injustice? People deserve justice and respect simply because they are people, not because they have done something special.

  • Brown’s…..”While Mr Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him.”, at least to my mind, the correct response.
    It was a crime at the time and to pretend otherwise is to rewrite history…The rationale appears to be – we wouldn’t do it now so let’s try and undo the past into a version we are comfortable with.

  • We made John Sharkey a Lord…….

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 25th Jul '12 - 6:31pm

    I know, Hywel. You have to remember I’m a dour Scot who doesn’t stand on ceremony or titles:-)

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 25th Jul '12 - 6:38pm

    Richard, I take your point. Turing obviously wasn’t alone, sadly. Sharkey himself recognises that but said that shouldn’t stop us pressing ahead to secure a pardon for an exceptional individual whose skill saved many lives and who was repaid with appalling treatment.

  • @Caron 🙂

    You need to imagine it being said in the way Edmund Blackadder says “You made Baldrick a Lord” 🙂

  • Nick (not Clegg) 27th Jul '12 - 8:45pm

    Surely a “pardon” is hardly the appropriate word; an apology, although totally inadequate and far too late,, would be more so.

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