Lawrence Joseph Sapper was born on 15th September 1922 and brought up in west London. He displayed an astonishing photographic memory from the age of five and went to grammar school.
During the Second World War, he joined the Communist Party and was a Senior Instructor in the RAF in technical matters during the. After demobilisation, he qualified as a barrister whilst studying part time while working for the Ministry of Agriculture but did not practice, deciding to use his legal training and outside of courts. He became known as a brilliant writer and broadcaster, participating in over 300 broadcasts, talking about aspects of the law.
In the post-war period, he held several posts in civil service unions, starting as Assistant General Secretary in the Institute of Professional and Civil Servants (IPCS), then Deputy General Secretary of the Post Office Engineering Union (POEU) and finally retiring as the General Secretary of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) from 1969-1983, which he steered into TUC affiliation. His earlier legal training enabled him to function well as the only trade union Chair of a Social Security Appeals Tribunal. His brother was Alan Sapper, General Secretary of film union, ACTT. Laurie Sapper was an opponent of the revisionist leadership of the 1980s and a member of the re-established Communist Party of Britain from the outset; he died aged 66 on 26th August 1989.
Sources: Morning Star 30th August 1989; Independent 30th August 1989