The UK government has apologised for the treatment of Alan Turing that led to the suicide of computing's founding genius — but calls for a posthumous pardon have been dismissed. I recently wrote up my trip to visit the beyond-exceptional Bletchley Park here at Gizmodo. One of the key exhibits there relates to Alan Turing and his role in cracking the German Enigma machines; it's a thrilling wartime story with a highly tragic ending, as Turing was prosecuted after the war for homosexuality and eventually committed suicide.
The BBC reports on the outcome of a recent appeal that sought to have his conviction posthumously pardoned; an online petition had gathered some 23,000 signatures, but it's been dismissed in the UK House of Lords. The BBC reports on Justice Minister Lord McNally comments, which were as follows:
A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence. It is tragic that Alan Turing was convicted of an offence which now seems both cruel and absurd, particularly... given his outstanding contribution to the war effort.
However, the law at the time required a prosecution and, as such, long-standing policy has been to accept that such convictions took place and, rather than trying to alter the historical context and to put right what cannot be put right, ensure instead that we never again return to those times.