Last Thursday a debate about the Turing pardon took place in Parliament. The MKNews website carries a report on the debate, which seems to be a rehashing of Turing’s value and the case for a pardon, including the recent suggestion of extending the new Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 to posthumous cases. The report also includes a suggestion of a special law, in light of the fear of setting a legal precedent, that would specifically clear Turing’s conviction alone. If you’re interest in the full detail, a link to the Hansard record for the debate is given below. You can also watch a video via the link given.
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A report on the MK [Milton Keynes] NEWS website offers support for the campaign of Iain Stewart MP “in his efforts to have Alan Turing’s conviction for homosexuality quashed”.
In a piece for Travels in a Mathematical World I wrote about the Turing pardon and the prospect of a new piece of legislation which, according to John Graham-Cumming, “specifically allows for the disregarding of convictions under the old law that was used against Turing”. The new development in the MK News piece refers to this legislation:
The recently-passed Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 allows a person who has been convicted or received a caution for an offence under sections 12 or 13 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956 to apply to have this ‘disregarded’.
These are the same offences for which Turing was convicted and Mr Stewart wants this disregard to be applied posthumously.
So the focus seems to have moved from a pardon, which the Government refused to do, to having the conviction posthumously disregarded under chapter four of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (which, if I’m reading it correctly, seems to allow for the person convicted to apply themselves to have their conviction disregarded).
Source: Add your voice to clear a war hero.
One of the reasons given against a pardon for Alan Turing in a November 2011 blog post by John Graham-Cumming (who successfully campaigned for a Turing apology in 2009) was that the Protection of Freedoms bill, if passed, would make a pardon unnecessary. This is because this
specifically allows for the disregarding of convictions under the old law that was used against Turing. Once disregarded the law causes their convictions to be deleted. It’s not quite the same thing as a pardon, but its effect is to lift the burden of a criminal record from these living men.
Now the bill has gained Royal Assent, becoming the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. A short piece in The Independent calls this “a freedom too late” for Alan Turing. The Turing pardon e-petition now has over 33,000 signatures.
Source: Protection of Freedoms Bill.