A coroner has been asked to consider why a fire broke out in the engine of a BMW police car which crashed on the M6 near Carlisle, killing the popular officer.

PC Nick Dumphreys, 47, died on January 26 after his car crashed on the motorway between junctions 44 and 43, near Carlisle.

He was driving a marked police car – a BMW 330 – southbound while on duty.

The officer’s inquest was due to get underway in Cockermouth this afternoon.

But the barrister representing PC Dumphreys’ family, Sam Harmel, asked Cumbria’s Assistant Coroner Simon Ward to adjourn the case so there can be a more detailed investigation of what went wrong with the car.

Addressing the coroner, Mr Harmel said that the cause of the fatal crash was a fire in the BMW’s engine.

This ultimately led to the tragedy, said the barrister.

He told the coroner: "It is not known why an oil supply line became clogged due to the fourth axle crankshaft being displaced.”

It was this which is thought to have led to the fire and ultimately the crash, he said.

The barrister added: “It may be the fault of problems with the BMW engine; or it may be there was an issue around the maintenance of that vehicle by the constabulary.

“Further evidence is needed to consider both those issues.”

He said that PC Dumphreys’ widow Kat had "a very real concern" that there may be an ongoing risk.

For those reasons, said the barrister, the coroner needed to have detailed responses from both Cumbria police and from BMW.

He added that there had been a recall of the particular model of BMW involved in the fatal crash because they were deemed to have a "fire risk".

Mr Ward agreed to adjourn the inquest.

The date of the new hearing has yet to be set.