Friday 17, February 2012
MP vows to fight on for Turing pardon
A MANCHESTER MP today began a renewed crusade to
clear computer genius Alan Turing’s name - despite the recent Government
refusal to grant a pardon.
Withington MP John Leech and campaigner William Jones made a symbolic visit to Alan Turing’s statue in Manchester’s Gay Village to decide on their next move in their campaign.
A week ago Justice Minister Lord McNally refused to allow the ‘father of computer science’ a pardon for charges of “gross indecency” with a man in 1952. Turing was forced to undergo humiliating chemical castration which led to his suicide two years later.
He stated: “Rather than trying to alter the historical context and to put right what cannot be put right, ensure instead that we never again return to those times.”
Liberal Democrat Leech, who proposed the pardon in an early day motion claimed he was “not surprised” by the refusal but vowed to continue to fight for justice:
“He’s a national hero, convicted of something he should not have been convicted of. I wasn’t at all surprised by the response by the justice minister, but I think it’s the start of the process rather than the end. We’re building up momentum and we intend to win this campaign.”
William Jones, who launched the petition, was also undeterred by the Justice Minister’s verdict. The recent pardons of shell-shocked WWI soldiers for desertion has given him hope that the government will rethink their decision:
“The actual law at the time was truly wrong and for a country like ourselves to speak in such high lofty terms about human rights we should look at that wrong and correct it. I would like to see that other gay men who suffered similar treatment were pardoned too.”
Locals have also expressed support for the campaign, with one visitor to the statue commenting: “We’ve been waiting for it to happen and we’d be delighted for it to happen after all this time.”
Following an internet movement, Turing was given a public apology in
2009 by Gordon Brown, who described his treatment as “appalling,” but he has
never received an official pardon.
Leech has urged the public to support the campaign to finally clear Turing’s name by signing the online petition which already has over 30,000 signatures, and the early day motion.
By Natasha Johansson
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