SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please considering donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!

State & Ceremonial

Codebreaker Alan Turing receives royal pardon

The codebreaker and computing pioneer, Alan Turing, has been granted a posthumous royal pardon.


The Pardon addresses Turing’s conviction for homosexuality in 1952 and his treatment thereafter.

It is believed that Mr Turing may have shortened World War II by two years after cracking the Enigma codes used by German U-boats in the Atlantic.

Despite all of Mr Turing’s work, at the time homosexuality was illegal at the time which meant when he was discovered to be in a relationship with a 19-year-old man, he was convicted of gross indecency.

Turing is believed to have committed suicide two years later.

The pardon was granted under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy after the Justice Minister Chris Grayling made a request.

Mr Grayling said “Dr Alan Turing was an exceptional man with a brilliant mind. His brilliance was put into practice at Bletchley Park during the Second World War where he was pivotal to breaking the ‘Enigma’ code, helping to end the war and save thousands of lives”.

In 2011, an e-petition was created on the Direct Gov site that asked for Turing to be pardoned. It received over 34,000 signatures but was denied by the then justice secretary, Lord McNally, who said Turing was “properly convicted” for what was at the time a criminal offence.

The pardon states:

“Now know ye that we, in consideration of circumstances humbly represented to us, are graciously pleased to grant our grace and mercy unto the said Alan Mathison Turing and grant him our free pardon posthumously in respect of the said convictions.”

Royal pardons were used in days gone by to reprieve those who were given death sentences, though it is now used to free those who have been wrongfully convicted, and to correct sentences.

Her Majesty The Queen will sign the pardon at Sandringham today.

You can see the full pardon here.

photo credit: SouthEastern Star ? via photopin cc