World War Two veteran and tireless campaigner for rights of Britons abroad Harry Shindler has died aged 101.
Mr Shindler, a Briton who lived in Italy, is best-known to Connexion readers for his long-standing efforts to overturn the ‘15-year-rule’ which banned British people from voting in UK elections after 15 years of living abroad.
He is reported by the Italian press as having died earlier this week at his home in the centre of Italy, where he still lived independently.
Mr Shindler was made an MBE in 2014 and an OBE in 2021, for his service to British nationals overseas.
We first reported on his work on the 15-year rule in 2011, when he challenged it before the European Court of Human Rights.
He told us at the time: “It's a question of principle and the right to vote is in the European Convention on Human Rights.
“The government says we have broken with the UK, but I have not. I still get my pension from the UK and for someone of my age that is one of the most important aspects of life."
He went on to support several bills aimed at ending the rule, which was finally overturned last year in the Elections Act 2022 – however secondary legislation to allow people to re-register still has yet to be passed.
He had hoped to be able to vote in the next general election, which is considered likely to be held in 2024 (though January 2025 is the latest possible date).
Mr Shindler was also involved in other legal challenges related to impacts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and British people’s loss of EU citizenship rights.
One of these is ongoing and his lawyer, Julien Fouchet, said it will go on – as other Britons abroad are also involved – and “we will call the case after him”.
He added: “He was an extraordinary man, an example for us all in the way he never gave up the fight.
“I last saw him at his birthday celebrations last year, when he said he was planning to go to the UK to convince his compatriots and the MPs to return to the EU.
“He took the microphone to speak to the guests for half an hour and had incredible energy.”
Mr Shindler was the last living veteran of the Allied landings in Anzio, and was also known for his work identifying graves of British servicemen killed or listed as missing in action during the war.