Skip to content
Skip to main content

Remembering Gary Slapper

Updated Wednesday, 7 December 2016
We're sad to report that Gary Slapper - founder of the OU Law School, visiting professor at The Open University and contributor to OpenLearn and - has died.

This page was published over 7 years ago. Please be aware that due to the passage of time, the information provided on this page may be out of date or otherwise inaccurate, and any views or opinions expressed may no longer be relevant. Some technical elements such as audio-visual and interactive media may no longer work. For more detail, see how we deal with older content.

Gary Slapper Gary Slapper

Carol Howells, senior lecturer in law with The OU Law School, writes:

It is with great sadness that the death of Professor Gary Slapper is announced. Gary first joined the OU in 1997 and was instrumental in the founding of the OU Law School and the UK’s first taught distance law degree (offered jointly in partnership with the then College of Law). He became the OU’s first Professor of Law giving his inaugural lecture ‘Yes, but is it legal? The pervasion of law as a golden measuring rod’ in February 2004.

His passion for widening access to legal study, law and social justice were well known and reflected in his wide and varied publications. His column in the Times delighted many and his vast collection of stories and legal anecdotes informed and amused generations of law students. His book on the English Legal System written with David Kelly informed and educated generations of law students fast becoming a leading text on the subject and one of the books found on every law student’s bookshelf. He was always delighted to meet and spend time with students and Associate Lecturers often going the extra mile with advice and encouragement.

Under Gary’s leadership the OU Law School grew from a team of one to become a great success proving that law could be successfully taught at a distance. Making the study of law accessible to a new and wide ranging audience the programme soon became the largest taught distance programme in the UK. His work in the media raised the profile of law at the OU and engaged new audiences through the partnership with the BBC in series such as ‘The Barristers’.

The law programme at the OU also challenged and influenced the sector in rethinking legal education. Gary played an instrumental role in this. He is remembered fondly by colleagues as someone who was ‘one of those very rare people who light up the room when they enter it and immediately make your day better, more fun and more interesting.’ His sense of fun, storytelling abilities alongside his in-depth academic commentary and passion for justice were missed by all the team when he left the OU in 2011.

Gary’s legacy is reflected in both the LLM and new LLB programmes here at the OU. Designed to engage, inform and challenge they reflect a passion for social justice and widening access to law. He will be sadly missed by all those that knew and worked with him and our thoughts go to his wife Suzanne and daughters Hannah, Emily and Charlotte.

The OpenLearn Team add:

The news was announced by The Times Law Twitter stream - where he was a popular columnist:

He contributed greatly to the life of the university, and was a supporter of the work we did in the Open Media team. First at, and then in the more recent incarnation as OpenLearn. Although, as I recall, he wasn't keen on being filmed out of doors. His kindness, willingness to suggest ideas and share contacts, and interest in helping spread knowledge as widely as possible was inspiring. As an academic, he had the rare knack of being able to take his subject lightly when appropriate and seriously when it was required.


Become an OU student

Ratings & Comments

Share this free course

Copyright information

Skip Rate and Review

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?