EU court asked to protect media source

The Independent and four other media groups will ask the European Court of Human Rights to protect journalists' sources after British judges ordered the disclosureof leaked documents to a Belgian brewer.

A High Court judge and three Court of Appeal judges have ruled that the papers, anonymously received by the media, should be handed over to Interbrew, an international company known for its Stella Artois and Becks beers.

In July, the brewers dropped their claim against the media, leaving the City's senior watchdog, the Financial Service Authority (FSA), to pursue the matter. In a joint submission to the Strasbourg court, The Independent, The Guardian, the Financial Times, The Times and Reuters, argue that the judgment is a breach of the right to freedom of expression. They claim it is not clear how the judges came to a conclusion that disclosure was "necessary in a democratic society".

The documents detailed a possible takeover bid by Interbrew for South African Breweries. Interbrew claimed they were "doctored" and that it was a "victim of manipulation" in a bid to mislead the stock market. A spokeswoman for the FSA said last night its investigation was continuing.