Lib Dem MP John Leech: ‘Alan Turing’s contribution to Manchester was enormous’

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Liberal Democrat MP John Leech says he’s delighted that Alan Turing has received a royal pardon and has thanked all of those who helped in the campaign.

Computer pioneer and codebreaker Alan Turing was given a posthumous royal pardon by the Queen on Monday evening.

It addresses his 1952 conviction for homosexuality for which he was punished by being chemically castrated.

Turing died in 1954 – a verdict of suicide was recorded – although several academics believe his death was an accident.

Mr Leech, the Lib Dem MP for Manchester Withington, had called for a pardon in the form of a private members’ bill.

It had been co-sponsored in the House of Lords by the Lib Dem peer Lord Sharkey and was due to receive its second reading in the Commons in January.

December’s second reading of Mr Leech’s bill in the Commons was delayed because of an objection by Tory MP Christopher Chope.

But Monday’s decision of the government to grant Turing a royal pardon means there’s now no need for Mr Leech’s bill.

He said: “Alan Turing’s contribution to Manchester was enormous as well as his efforts in bringing the war to an early conclusion. He is a national hero.

“I want to thank all those who have campaigned so hard for this pardon. Without their efforts and their dedication, this would not have happened.”

Alan Turing is credited with cracking Nazi Germany’s Enigma code, in the process shortening World War Two, and saving countless lives.

It was in Manchester, in 1952, that Turing was arrested for having sex with another man.

Much of his ground-breaking scientific work was conducted at the University of Manchester.

Today, mathematics students at the university attend lectures in the building bearing his name.

On 31 March – the date he was convicted – Manchester City Council will hold an Alan Turing Pardon Day.

The names of other Mancunians convicted of the same offences will be read out in a ceremony before the statue of Turing in Sackville Gardens.

Writing for, LGBT rights campaigner Chris Ward welcomed the decision to pardon Turing, but said the state still has not formally acknowledged that it was wrong to have persecuted him for his sexuality in the first place.

Campaigners say the pardon should be extended to more than 50,000 men convicted of homosexuality.

In the leadup to the 2010 general election,  David Cameron announced on PinkNews that if he became Prime Minister, he would disregard the convictions of those convicted of historical gay sex offences. The measure was passed by the Coalition government but only applies to the convictions of those who are still alive, not people like Turing who have since died.

The Ministry of Justice had said it has no plans to change the rules.