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Alan Turing receives royal pardon.

 
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becky sharp



Joined: 01 Dec 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 24, 2013 10:53 am    Post subject: Alan Turing receives royal pardon. Reply with quote

"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."



http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/dec/24/enigma-codebreaker-alan-turing-royal-pardon
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Colin



Joined: 26 Sep 2013
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 24, 2013 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm currently doing quite a lot of work for the Bletchley Park Trust in archiving recordings of veterans talking of their time at BP during WW2 and it's quite fascinating to hear some people's stories of working with Turing on the "Bombe" machines that sped up the decrypting process.

He was a remarkable man who can reasonably be described as The Father of Modern Computing, and I've always thought that he was treated despicably by the British Establishment, who saw fit to draw attention to his sexuality rather than his key contribution to ending WW2 up to 2 years earlier than it might otherwise have done (according to Churchill).

It's a shame that this pardon has come so late - and posthumously!
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Toggy



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 24, 2013 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

About bloody time!

I have visited Bletchley Park a few times, it is a fantastic place. I do recommend a visit to anyone who has not been before.
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Colin



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 24, 2013 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Toggy wrote:
About bloody time!

I have visited Bletchley Park a few times, it is a fantastic place. I do recommend a visit to anyone who has not been before.


It has changed much even in the last 6 months. Thanks to a large Heritage Lottery Fund grant of 11million (2million of which had to be raised by BP as part of its match-funding agreement) they're doing a lot of sympathetic restoration work on the oldest huts used by cryptoanalysis teams. This is being overseen by English Heritage, who have laid down tight guidelines on what can and can't be done. I'm down there again on 10th January to organise training of volunteers to enable them to conduct oral history interviews for inclusion in the new digital archive that BP is creating.

Yes, you're right Toggy, it's a wonderful place, and thanks to the secrecy that prevailed for well over 30 years it's barely changed in the intervening years. You get a real sense of what went on there during WW2. Although the site was taken over by Post Office Telecoms (now BT) as their UK technical training centre for many years up to the 1980s, they only used part of it. Also, my son did his engineering training day-release there as well in the late 1990s.

I've been in some of the huts that aren't normally accessible to the public due to H&S concerns, and you really feel the presence of the "ghosts" of those who slaved away there. The huts are (were) virtually unchanged and still contain some of the debris left by their last occupants. Very weird!
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John W



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 24, 2013 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Colin, that's excellent work you are involved with, well done!

Turing's conviction barred him from continuing with his work for the government, such a loss of development work.
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ruddlescat



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 24, 2013 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry folks but speaking as a lawyer I have to disagree

A Royal Pardon is only appropriate in cases where it is established that a party is innocent of a crime for which he or she was convicted and in this case that is clearly not relevant

Like it or not homosexuality was a crime in those days and his actions don't cease to be a crime just because the law changes many years later - for example if someone is convicted of exceeding the 30MPH speed limit they can't get their fine or penalty points wiped out simply because a few months later the speed limit is increased to 40MPH

There is also the matter of why this particular person should be pardoned but not the thousands of others who engaged in similar conduct when such behaviour was unlawful - it tends to suggest to me that it happened only because he was famous and in all fairness had genuinely contributed a great deal to the war effort but I'm afraid the law has to be the same for anyone so for me this is an incorrect decision Sad
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SantaFefan



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 24, 2013 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My thoughts exactly Ruddles... I agree.
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Colin



Joined: 26 Sep 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 25, 2013 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ruddlescat wrote:
There is also the matter of why this particular person should be pardoned but not the thousands of others who engaged in similar conduct when such behaviour was unlawful - it tends to suggest to me that it happened only because he was famous and in all fairness had genuinely contributed a great deal to the war effort but I'm afraid the law has to be the same for anyone so for me this is an incorrect decision Sad


It's a bit of clever PR for those in government. I agree that his prosecution was in response to the fact that his sexual activity was unlawful at the time, but I also think that his persistent public hounding by politicians and press at a time when he had already contributed so much to the Britain's war effort was the result of an astonishing level of hypocrisy by the British Establishment at the time. It's such a pity that other public figures who practiced similar sexual "deviances" were protected from being "outed" by that same establishment. Quite why Turing was singled out for this public treatment - which ultimately led to him allegedly taking his life - remains a mystery. I've heard lengthy interviews with people who worked with him on the Bombe machines - one of whom is Mavis Batey, who sadly died a few weeks ago - who cannot understand it either. Everyone knew of, or suspected, his sexual preferences, but all those at BP who knew of his work (and it wasn't very many, actually) knew that that his search for a mechanised solution to the rapid and systematic decryption of German cyphers had to be prioritised, as indeed it was. A lot of people still don't understand why such an effort was made to publicly "out" him in preference to other people.

To me, this action alone in inexcusable, and this "Pardon" is merely a recognition of the fact that without the benefit of his unique intellect the whole of the western world would be a very different place today.
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ruddlescat



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 25, 2013 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You may well be right in what you say Colin and he may have been singled out for special treatment as a result of our wonderful British press - you know very well what I think of them Evil or Very Mad

However it does not alter the fact that Royal Pardons are reserved for people who have been convicted of crimes which subsequently it is proved they never committed or where there is serious doubt about the relevant conviction

Turing never denied that he broke the law as it stood in 1953 and as such there is no justifiable legal reason why any pardon should be granted - however sympathetic anyone might feel about his situation
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Colin



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 25, 2013 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ruddlescat wrote:
However it does not alter the fact that Royal Pardons are reserved for people who have been convicted of crimes which subsequently it is proved they never committed or where there is serious doubt about the relevant conviction

Turing never denied that he broke the law as it stood in 1953 and as such there is no justifiable legal reason why any pardon should be granted - however sympathetic anyone might feel about his situation


I agree with all that. I'm just suspicious of the reasons why he was hounded - not so much by the press as by the Great British Establishment and subsequently by the forces of law.

I think a Royal Pardon, today, is a way of our society saying to everyone who was tried and convicted of such an arcane law that we're sorry for such stupidity. Unfortunately, Turing never survived to see the change in law in 1967.
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childprufe



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 5:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The following is a press release by gay rights activist Peter Tatchell - it is economical with the truth.
An apology and pardon is due to the other 50,000-plus men who were also convicted of consenting, victimless homosexual relationships during the twentieth century. These men were criminalised for consenting behaviour that was not a crime between heterosexual men and women.

Homosexuality was never a criminal offence. Homosexual (indeed any sexual) acts in public were.
Anal intercourse was illegal between heterosexual couples long after it was decriminalized between consenting adult males in private.
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John W



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

childprufe wrote:
Homosexuality was never a criminal offence. Homosexual (indeed any sexual) acts in public were.
Anal intercourse was illegal between heterosexual couples long after it was decriminalized between consenting adult males in private.


In private, homosexuality WAS a crime before 1967, childprufe. That's why celebrities who were clearly outwardly of that disposition never said so in public.

'The Sexual Offences Act 1967 decriminalised homosexual acts in private between two men'. I'm only looking at wiki for verification.

As for what ruddles and Colin have said, I'd say 'pardon' is the wrong 'word' for what is intended here. In a way it is a token gesture that makes it clear that society was unjust in the past.

But to go round 'pardoning' all those found guilty in the past of what is now not regarded as an offense is not necessary, it's just not feasible, too many wrongs to right.

Are we to pardon Edmund Campion for the saying of mass for which he was hung, drawn and quartered in 1581? There were many others, known as The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, a group of Catholic men and women who were executed for treason and related offences in England between 1535 and 1679.
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Colin



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John W wrote:
As for what ruddles and Colin have said, I'd say 'pardon' is the wrong 'word' for what is intended here. In a way it is a token gesture that makes it clear that society was unjust in the past.

But to go round 'pardoning' all those found guilty in the past of what is now not regarded as an offense is not necessary, it's just not feasible, too many wrongs to right.


Yes, I agree John. Perhaps the word "Pardon" isn't the right word. What disappoints me is that the whole episode overshadowed any national recognition for the contribution that Turing made to not just to our war effort but also to technological progress.
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ruddlescat



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry but I strongly disagree - Turing was a criminal in those days in exactly the same way as was Jimmy Saville and many other high profile people

You can't pick and choose who your 'criminals ' are at any particular point in time

You have to live by the law of the land as it is relevant to you during your lifetime
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Colin



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ruddlescat wrote:
Sorry but I strongly disagree - Turing was a criminal in those days in exactly the same way as was Jimmy Saville and many other high profile people

You can't pick and choose who your 'criminals ' are at any particular point in time

You have to live by the law of the land as it is relevant to you during your lifetime


I don't think anybody here is disagreeing with that fact, Ruddles. Certainly not me.
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childprufe



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In private, homosexuality WAS a crime before 1967, childprufe. That's why celebrities who were clearly outwardly of that disposition never said so in public.

Sorry John - you misunderstand me - it was never an offence to be homosexual - much as the same it is not a crime to hold racist or homophobic views - peoples minds are not subject to legislation. To carry out any homosexual act was an offence (between men) prior to 1967.

I apologise that a posting to rightly commend the brilliance and patriotism of Dr.Turing has been turned into a legal argument (even as civilised as this has been).
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Colin



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

childprufe wrote:
I apologise that a posting to rightly commend the brilliance and patriotism of Dr.Turing has been turned into a legal argument (even as civilised as this has been).


No need to apologise because I appreciate the point that you have been making. To me, the issue of the legality of "acts of homosexuality" pre-1967 is secondary to the hounding of a truly brilliant man and (in my opinion) a national hero.

What concerns me is not the legal implications of his practising homosexuality (which, as Ruddles correctly points out, was unlawful at the time) but the fact that he was so publicly vilified for this even though the British Establishment, senior academics at both Cambridge (where he was a brilliant scholar) and Oxford, GCHQ and also the USA intelligence services were aware of both his sexuality and his brilliance.

Had he not had to endure this unbearable pressure, who knows how his brilliance would have benefitted society? It's a strange world we live in. I always wonder how many of those who ordered him to be pursued and convicted were themselves in the proverbial closet! Hypocrisy at its best.

As an aside, it has long been suggested that the Apple log - the image of an apple with a bite taken out of it - is a coded reference to The Father of Computing and the bite out of the allegedly poisoned apple that killed him. However, this was denied by the late Steve Jobs in the biography by Walter Isaacson that was released soon after Jobs' death. It's a compelling theory - one which was first put to me by a member of The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park.
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becky sharp



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 10:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ruddlescat wrote:
Sorry but I strongly disagree - Turing was a criminal in those days in exactly the same way as was Jimmy Saville and many other high profile people

You can't pick and choose who your 'criminals ' are at any particular point in time

You have to live by the law of the land as it is relevant to you during your lifetime

Turing was a criminal, as the law stood in those days, but to put his name in the same breath as Jimmy Savile (ugh)

Turing was convicted of homosexuality, an act which hurt nobody, whereas Jimmy Savile's crimes caused untold misery to countless young people....boys and girls


"Jimmy Savile abused children at 14 hospitals across six decades"

http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/jan/11/jimmy-savile-abused-children-hospitals
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unclebuck



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ruddlescat wrote:

However it does not alter the fact that Royal Pardons are reserved for people who have been convicted of crimes which subsequently it is proved they never committed or where there is serious doubt about the relevant conviction
Turing never denied that he broke the law as it stood in 1953 and as such there is no justifiable legal reason why any pardon should be granted - however sympathetic anyone might feel about his situation


Coming to this late (as ever), but.....
Strictly speaking, there is no requirement in law for a party to be proved innocent in order to receive a Royal Pardon. They may be bestowed at the discretion of the Monarch under the Royal Perogative of Mercy (although not in Scotland). Historically, this was often a power exercised in order to save someone from a death penalty when a Monarch was so moved, but was not (until the modern era at least) an indication of innocence. In the case of Turing, this discretionary act has been invoked in recognition of his exceptional (unique) contribution to the war effort - there is no wider significance.
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ruddlescat



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If this situation is as a result of his 'Exceptional contribution to the War Effort then surely those facts should have been recognised by him being granted some kind of posthumous award rather than him being granted a Royal Pardon

Whilst it may be true that such pardons can rarely be granted for convicted criminals where does this leave all other homosexuals many of whom may have also made major contributions to the war effort

Sounds to me like he is being singled out for preferential treatment solely because he is famous Sad
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