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Alan Turing’s nephew: ‘I’m not sure his Royal Pardon added a great deal’

Joseph McCormick February 13, 2015

The famed WW2 codebreaker Alan Turing was one of the men convicted under historic anti-gay laws

One of Alan Turing’s last surviving relatives has spoken in an interview to say that he isn’t sure that a posthumous pardon “added a great deal”, but did praise it for drawing attention to others convicted under a gross indecency law.

Gay World War II codebreaker Alan Turing – often hailed as the grandfather of modern computing – was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ in 1952 after having sex with a man, and was chemically castrated, barred from working for GCHQ, and eventually driven to suicide.

He was granted a Royal Pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy in December 2013.

Sir Dermot Turing speaks in an interview in the current issue of GT (Gay Times) magazine, saying he thinks the chemical castration his uncle, the famed codebreaker, underwent would have been “devastatingly difficult”.

He said, despite Turing being very sarcastic about the process of the punishment, his “sense is that it was a bit of a defence mechanism. It must’ve been unbelievably unsettling.”

“The pardon given to Alan struck me as being something one couldn’t, in any sense, object to.. But it seemed odd that he’d been singled out.

“I don’t want people to go away with the impression that the pardon was a bad thing. Its really hard to criticise it, but I’m not sure that it added a great deal. Other than drawing attention to the fame of the others, which is of course a valid concern.”

Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Turing in the recent biopic ‘The Imitation Game’, last month gave an impassioned speech about late gay codebreaker and computer genius.

The campaign, which is backed by Stephen Fry as well as Cumberbatch, estimates that at least 49,000 men were convicted under gross indecency laws, and calls for a pardon.

An open letter signed by Fry and Cumberbatch, last week asked the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to join the campaign, but they declined.

The full interview is available in the latest edition of GT, here.

More: Alan Turing, chemical castration, pardon, royal prerogative of mercy

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