The alleged attack on a news photographer by Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe may have created headlines around the world and required an official explanation from the justice minister as to why she could not be charged, but apparently it left no impression on government records. Last month, the South China Morning Post filed an application through the Code on Access to Information to the Security Bureau requesting the number of people eligible for diplomatic immunity, the number of times immunity had been invoked and by which consulates, the nature of each suspected offence, and the total number or value of outstanding fines. The request was referred to the Chief Secretary's Office, which controls both the protocol division and the government records service. The office provided this response: 'We do not have a list [nor hence the number] of persons who enjoy diplomatic immunity in the HKSAR. We also do not maintain any register of the immunity cases we have come across'. It was the second response from the administration. In the first response, the administration had replied that there was no such data, prompting the Post to seek clarification as to whether the government felt immunity had never been invoked, or that it simply did not keep records of such events. Civic Party lawmaker Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, an advocate of a freedom of information law, said the response showed 'an utter lack of respect for the public's right to know'. 'Somebody has to grant immunity. Somebody has to exercise the discretion. Everything has to be minuted; there is a paper trail for everything. If Hong Kong says it still has the rule of law, then such granting of immunity has to go through stated procedure,' Ms Eu, who is a barrister, said. 'If not, it is evidence of a total system breakdown. There is no rule of law, but a rule of man.' Under the code, an administrative guide for the government's disclosure of information, there are 16 categories that need not be disclosed, including 'internal advice and discussion', although none of these was cited in the response. Democratic Party vice-chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said: 'This is ridiculous. The government is so scared of the people finding out information that they would rather say they don't have it.' In Britain, where 24,000 people are entitled to diplomatic immunity, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office released information on which diplomats invoked immunity last year, following a request through the Freedom of Information Act. Suspected offences were mostly related to driving, but also included actual bodily harm, shoplifting and possession of a bladed article. Richard Jones, chief photographer with Hong Kong's Sinopix photo agency, claimed Mrs Mugabe repeatedly punched him and tried to wrestle his camera away after he took pictures of her in Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, on January 15. The Welshman, 42, said he suffered bruises and cuts on his face and forehead inflicted in part by a diamond-encrusted ring Mrs Mugabe was wearing. He made a police report on January 17, by which time Mrs Mugabe and her entourage had returned to Zimbabwe. In an explanation to the Legislative Council in March, Secretary for Justice Wong Yan-lung said he had sought advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' office in Hong Kong, which advised that the central government 'in general confers diplomatic privileges and immunities on spouses of foreign heads of states during their stay in China'.