A FATAL accident inquiry may be held into the death of an Australian woman who died after following a religious cult fast.

Yesterday, Tain procurator- fiscal Alasdair MacDonald revealed what killed 49-year-old Verity Linn, an assistant manager with the Cluny Hill College in Forres, which is part of the Findhorn Foundation.

Mr MacDonald disclosed that Miss Linn did not die of starvation, but of hypothermia and dehydration. ''This was as a result of self-neglect. Although she may not have been eating, malnutrition is not a cause of death. She succumbed to a lack of water and warmth.''

Earlier this week, her diary recorded her last days as she refused to eat or drink, believing it would ''spiritually cleanse'' her body and ''recharge her physically and mentally''. It noted she stopped eating and drinking on Saturday, September 4. Her last entry was September 11, five days before her naked body was found by an angler on holiday, 100 yards from her tent near Loch Cam in north-west Sutherland.

Her diary confirmed that she intended following a 21-day programme of fasting called 'breatharianism', as promoted by a fellow country-woman and self-proclaimed prophet, Ellen Greve, also known as Jasmuheen. Jasmuheen claimed to have survived for several years on simply light, and wrote a book called Living on Light.

Mr MacDonald said: ''There has been a great deal of media speculation about Miss Linn's death in connection with this book. Once I have the full post mortem report, I will be contacting the family. After I have consulted with them, it is a possibility that the Lord Advocate may instruct a fatal accident inquiry.