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ALAN Turing is often considered the father of computer science who played a pivotal role in breaking the Enigma code.
He had a lasting impact on the way we live today, and his legacy continues as the face of the new £50 note. Here is everything we know about the British hero’s life.
Alan Turing was the WWII Enigma code breakerCredit: Copyright: www.bridgemanimages.com
Who is Alan Turing?
Alan Turing was the Enigma code breaker responsible for decrypting Nazi messages.
The Enigma enciphering machine, adopted by the German armed forces to send messages securely, was believed to be unbreakable.
Turing was part of a research team working at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire.
He is credited with shortening World War II by two to four years, and was awarded an OBE in 1945.
In 1952, he started a relationship with Arnold Murray, 19, after meeting him just before Christmas in Manchester.
After his house was burgled and a police report filed, Turing acknowledged his sexual relationship with Murray.
Both men were charged with gross indecency.
He is now the face of the new £50 notes, which entered circulation on June 23, 2021.
How did Alan Turing die?
Turing pleaded guilty to the gross indecency charge and opted for chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones.
The pioneering mathematician was rendered impotent and his security clearance was removed – barring him for continuing his work with GCHQ.
He died two years later from cyanide poisoning in an apparent suicide – though there have been suggestions his death was an accident.
War hero Alan Turing was officially pardoned in 2013Credit: SWNS
When was Alan Turing pardoned?
The daring war hero was officially pardoned in 2013 – and thousands of others followed suit after the Queen signed the Police and Crime Act into law.
Thousands of gay dead men convicted under laws, which have now been repealed, were granted an automatic pardon in 2017.
The law only provides pardons for men convicted of acts that are no longer offences.
In a further step, the Government announced that it would introduce a new statutory pardon for the living in cases where offences have been successfully deleted through the disregard process.
What is the Alan Turing Law?
Turing was convicted under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885.
The clause was introduced by MP Henry Labouchere on August 6, 1885, and provided for a term of imprisonment “not exceeding two years”, with or without hard labour, for any man found guilty of gross indecency with another male, whether “in public or in private”.
No definition was given of what constituted “gross indecency”, but it was widely interpreted as any male homosexual behaviour short of actual sodomy, which remained a more serious and separate crime.
Around 75,000 gay and bisexual men were convicted under the Sexual Offences Act.
Those who are still alive were asked to fill out a form to have the conviction removed from criminal records.
The Alan Turing Law was backed by Benedict Cumberbatch, who played the codebreaker in The Imitation GameCredit: AP:Associated Press
Pardons were automatically granted to 59,000 men who have passed away.
Oscar Wilde was convicted under the act in 1895 after he was accused of having sex with over 12 young men between 1892 and 1894.
He was sentenced to two years’ hard labour.
Nearly 50,000 campaigners delivered a petition to Downing Street before the 2017 General Election.
The plan for an “Alan Turing law” was outlined in the 2015 Conservative manifesto: “We will build on the posthumous pardon of Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing, who committed suicide following his conviction for gross indecency, with a broader measure to lift the convictions of this nature.”
In 2013, Turing was granted a posthumous royal pardon – 61 years after he had been charged over homosexual activity.
Former Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said it was a “truly momentous day”.
He added: “We can never undo the hurt caused, but we have apologised and taken action to right these wrongs.
“I am immensely proud that Turing’s Law has become a reality under this Government.”
Why is Alan Turing on the £50 note?
The selection of the mathematician was announced at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester on July 15.
It features a quote from Turing, given in an interview to The Times newspaper on June 11, 1949, which reads: “This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be.”
What is The Imitation Game?
The Imitation Game is a 2014 film based on the 1983 biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges.
The title of the film quotes the name of the game Turing proposed for answering the question: “Can machines think?”, in his 1950 seminal paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence”.
Alan Turing was portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in the movie, directed by Morten Tyldum and written by Graham Moore.