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Apple accused of lowering cone of silence over iPod flame out

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Apple has been accused of attempting to gag a traumatised iPod user, whose player burst into flames and tried to go into orbit.

According to The Times, Ken Stanborough, 47, from Liverpool, complained to the firm after his daughter's iPod self-combusted shortly after being dropped.

“It made a hissing noise,” Stanborough said. “I could feel it getting hotter in my hand, and I thought I could see vapour”.

Stanborough, clearly guessing something was up, hurled the MP3 player out of his back door. “Within 30 seconds there was a pop, a big puff of smoke and it went 10ft in the air,” he said.

Stanborough contacted Apple, and Argos which supplied the device.

Eventually, he claims, Apple wrote to him offering a refund, but denying liability, if the Stanboroughs agreed to a perpetual vow of silence.

"You will keep the terms and existence of this settlement agreement completely confidential”, the letter told Stanborough, with any verbal slippages resulting in "Apple seeking injunctive relief, damages and legal costs against the defaulting persons or parties”.

Stanborough told The Times that the vow of silence amounted to a "life sentence" on his family.

“If we inadvertently did say anything, no matter what, they would take litigation against us. I thought that was absolutely appalling."

Last month an iPod was suspected of being behind the fiery destruction of a Saab. Last year a spate of iPod fireballs put the fear into Japan. In 2007, an Atlanta airport worker blamed his iPod nano for a fire which singed him from his pants to his chest region, and exposed him to being mistaken for a suicide bomber.

The Stanborough case is all the more disturbing for the rogue music player's 10 foot leap into the air, suggesting the world's favourite music player now thinks it's some kind of Wagner playing killer drone.

UK consumer law normally makes it the responsibility of the retailer to replace or repair a faulty product, although there could be a dispute in this case over whether the drop was a contributing factor. We haven't heard of tech vendors imposing confidentiality clauses in return for a refund - but then again, we wouldn't if they did.

According to The Times, an Apple spokesman said that, as the company had not looked at the Stanboroughs’ damaged iPod, it could not comment. Argos also refused to comment.

We asked Apple if it was lowering its famed cone of silence over UK consumers. A spokesperson told us they didn't think the firm was commenting on the issue. ®

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