I sold my air rifle at 15. I am still troubled by the wanton shooting of sparrows, but no fines for me (Labour police commissioner candidate forced to withdraw over £5 fine, 9 August). The 13-year-old Bob Ashford was less lucky. His encounter with an air rifle meant that he ended up on the wrong side of the law. As a result he is barred from standing for election as a police and crime commissioner. Bob does, however, have a remedy for the consequences of his 40-year-old fine. It is exactly this type of well-intended, albeit overzealous, legislation setting up the PCC scheme that the Human Rights Act is designed to deal with. The act's careful and subtle scheme should mean, if properly implemented, that irrelevant features of Bob's private life cannot prevent him from being active within the public sphere. Bob's predicament shows how crucial correctly protected privacy rights are to the democratic process and access to public office. Jonathan Cooper Doughty Street Chambers, London

© Guardian News & Media Ltd

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