PM apologises to Enigma code breaker
By Liz Stephens
Gordon Brown issued an apology last night on behalf of the government to Alan Turing, the Bletchley codebreaker who committed suicide in the 1950s after being sentenced to chemical castration for being a homosexual.
Mr Turing was famous for deciphering the messages produced by German Enigma machines – his work is widely credited as being vital in Britain’s victory against Germany in the Second World War.
In 1952, Mr Turing was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 after admitting being gay. He was given experimental chemical castration as a “treatment” and was disallowed from continuing to work for the government.
He killed himself two years later, aged just 41.
Apologising for the treatment of Mr Turing by the government of the time, the prime minister said “We’re sorry, you deserved so much better”.
“Without his outstanding contribution, the history of world war two could well have been very different,” Mr Brown wrote.
“The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely.”
Mr Turing is also considered to be the father of modern computing and worked on one of the first modern computers.
He was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.
Thousands of people had signed a Downing Street petition calling for an official apology, among them the novelist Ian McEwan, scientist Richard Dawkins, and gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
“Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly. Over the years millions more lived in fear of conviction,” wrote the prime minister
“This recognition of Alan’s status as one of Britain’s most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality and long overdue.”
The apology came as news broke that a foreign office consul had been killed at his home in Jamaica in an alleged ‘homophobic attack’.