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Flaming work laptop toasts cottage

Did dodgy battery cause £350,000 of damage?

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A retired schools inspector is suing her former employer because her work laptop allegedly set fire to to her thatched cottage, causing £350,000 of damage.

The case, currently before the High Court, could have serious implications for any company which lets staff work from home. The inspector, Eileen Visser, is taking action under safety rules - because the laptop was supplied by her employer, Ofsted.

The court heard that Ms Visser had previous problems with her four-year old laptop and had been issued with a replacement battery for it two weeks before the fire, the Daily Mail reports.

She claims that when the machine overheated she called the help desk and was told to leave the machine switched on so its fan would help cool it down.

So she took the dog for a walk.

When she got back an hour later her Grade-II listed cottage was on fire.

She also claims eight other Ofsted staff had similar problems.

Investigators have confirmed an electrical fault as the likely cause of the fire. Repairs cost £359,144, but her insurers only paid out £249,813. Visser is seeking the remaining £100,000.

Ofsted said it was not accepting liability and would not comment further while the case was ongoing. ®

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