A Scots academic, whose former students are being held in relation to his possible murder, was originally ruled to have died from alcohol poisoning, it has emerged.

Peter Farquhar, 60, died in October 2015 and a coroner ruled a month later that the death had been an accident.

But following the death of his 83 year old neighbour and close friend Ann Moore Martin in 18 months later, police became suspicious that neither had passed away from natural causes.

They subsequently discovered that large sums of money had disappeared from the accounts of both pensioners.

Three men have now been arrested in relation to the deaths, in the Buckinghamshire village of Maids Moreton, of the Edinburgh-born lecturer and Ms Moore-Martin, a former headteacher.

Two of the men – a 27 year old from Towcester, Northamptonshire and a 31 year old from Redruth in Cornwall, were detained on suspicion of two counts of murder and conspiracy to murder, two counts of fraud and one count of burglary. The third, a 22 year old from Milton Keynes, was arrested on suspicion of a number of counts of fraud.

The 27 year old, named as Ben Field, a deputy church warden, was a former lodger of Mr Farquhar and, along with 31 year old Martyn Smith, a magician, had set up a company to publish and promote unpublished works by Mr Farquhar, who lectured in English Literature at the University of Buckingham, after retiring after 34 years teaching in private schools. They were also believed to have looked after him in the last years of his life, and the academic's third novel, a Wide Wide Sea was dedicated to the pair.

The author wrote: "This book is dedicated to MARTYN SMITH and BEN FIELD whose encouragement was invaluable and without whom this book would not exist."

After Mr Farquhar's rapid decline, Ben Field moved in to stay with Ms Moore-Martin before she too died.

The third man detained by police is reported to be Field's brother, Thomas. The brothers' parents were said by neighbours to be "the backbone of the community" - Ian Field is a baptist minister and his wife Beverley a former Liberal Democrat councillor.

Channel 4 News political reporter Michael Crick, who was a pupil of Mr Farquhar at Manchester Grammar School described him as "one of he most extraordinary teachers of my life," and "something of a father figure" and Tweeted that the murder investigation was "distressing and extraordinary."

As well as setting up a company to publish his books, two of the men being questioned by police had contacted many of his former colleagues and pupils to appear in a documentary on his life and career. The firm, Farquhar Studies Ltd, filed no accounts and was later dissolved.