Intelligence may play a "central role" when a coroner investigates the circumstances surrounding the death of a British doctor in Syria, a lawyer said today.

Judge Peter Thornton, the chief coroner, is due examine the death of 32-year-old orthopaedic surgeon Abbas Khan at an inquest in London scheduled to start on October 13.

Dr Khan died while being held in custody by Syrian government officials in December 2013, the judge has heard. He had been helping hospital bombing victims and was captured in Aleppo.

His family claims that he was murdered while being held. The Syrian government has always maintained Dr Khan killed himself.

A lawyer representing the Khan family today told a preliminary hearing in London that "intelligence" might play a "central role" at the inquest. Michael Mansfield QC also said it was it was "inevitable" that British Foreign Office officials would be criticised.

Medical experts have already been asked to report on Dr Khan's health and a psychiatrist has been asked to examine his mental state.