A man fined one penny for refusing to put personal information on an election form today said the landmark court case made a mockery of the authorities. Ian Withers, 68, from Steeple Road, Antrim was left with a criminal record after refusing to give his National Insurance number for the Northern Ireland electoral register. Mr Withers, a former police officer and private detective originally from London, said officials had used a hammer to crack a nut in the first case of its kind in the UK. The episode sparked claims that the tight controls on proof of identity in Northern Ireland, first introduced to combat voter fraud, are now only serving to deter voters. ``They wanted to make an example of me,'' Mr Withers said. ``But it seems to me that they have used the sledgehammer and the nut approach. ``It is totally ridiculous. It is Big Brother stuff.'' Mr Withers, who underwent surgery after suffering heart trouble in the run-up to the case, said he felt it was inappropriate that he be asked to surrender personal information, especially since voters in Britain do not face the same demands.