The secretary for justice yesterday said the decision not to prosecute the bodyguards of Robert Mugabe's daughter was made after external advice that the case was borderline. However, pan-democrats accused Wong Yan-lung of avoiding responsibility and condoning attacks on journalists by bodyguards of public figures, who can later plead they were 'genuinely concerned' for the safety of their charge. The two bodyguards - a man named Mapfumo Marks and a woman named Manyaira Reliance Pepukai - were accused of assaulting Colin Galloway and Tim O'Rourke on February 13 outside a house in Tai Po where Bona Mugabe is living while studying in the city. The photographers, who were working for a British newspaper, complained to police. After an investigation, the Department of Justice said the bodyguards would not be prosecuted because they acted out of concern for the safety of Bona Mugabe, who was in the house. The incident happened a month after Bona's mother, Grace, allegedly assaulted a photographer in Tsim Sha Tsui. In that case, the department decided she was entitled to diplomatic immunity as the Zimbabwean president's wife. The incidents have raised concerns over protections of press freedom. In a letter to legal sector lawmaker Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, the justice chief said the director of public prosecutions, 'out of an abundance of caution, felt that it would be prudent to obtain an outside assessment of the case from a senior counsel at the private bar who specialises in criminal law'. Mr Wong said the external advice was that the case was 'borderline' or 'marginal' and that 'in all the circumstances, the public interest did not require a prosecution ... 'I hope you will be as reassured as was I that this was the considered view not only of senior counsel within the department, but also of senior counsel at the bar.' He said: 'There was evidence pointing to the complainees being genuinely concerned for the safety of Miss Mugabe. They appeared to have believed they were acting properly in intercepting the complainants, whom they considered to be trespassing.' However, Ms Ng said she did not accept the argument. 'Can you therefore say that just because you are protecting some important public figure, when you see a journalist trying to take pictures, you can go and beat him up? And then say afterwards, you were 'genuinely concerned' for safety?' Civic Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said: 'Even if it is independent advice, that cannot replace the secretary for justice's decision.' She said the best option would have been to let an open and fair court decide, otherwise there would be the impression that the decision not to prosecute was a political consideration. Ms Eu also noted that Mr Wong did not seem to have considered that these were legitimate journalists trying to report on an incident of great public interest. Democratic Party vice-chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said: 'He is the secretary for justice. He is the one who makes the decisions. He cannot just say they briefed out the advice and then evade all responsibility.' Asked to comment on the incident, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said prosecution policy was independent of his office.