Leading article: A petition – and a pardon – that should be granted

The e-petition has become that rare thing: a popular government initiative. The latest one calls for the computer pioneer and decoder Alan Turing to be pardoned and have his gross-indecency conviction quashed. The former may be simpler than the latter.

Quashing a conviction for something that would not constitute a crime today may be hard to do without seeming to exclude everyone else so charged. The 1967 reform was, in essence, an acknowledgement that the criminalisation of homosexuality was wrong.

The request for a pardon, on the other hand, deserves universal support. Turing was one of the most gifted scientists the country has produced; he placed his genius at the service of his country and his reward was to be traduced and hounded to his death. Two years ago, as Prime Minister, Gordon Brown apologised on behalf of the Government. A pardon, with the message it would send about past mistakes and new beginnings, should be the logical next step.

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