HP feels the heat as spy saga continues

Perhaps the best bit of news beleaguered HP CEO Mark Hurd got last month was that his company hasn't yet had to initiate a product recall for its notebooks.

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By  Published  October 6, 2006

Perhaps the best bit of news beleaguered HP CEO Mark Hurd got last month was that his company hasn't yet had to initiate a product recall for its notebooks.

Along with firms such as Toshiba, Dell, Apple and Lenovo, who have all recalled laptops in recent weeks, HP is a big user of Sony batteries for its laptops.

As many as two million HP laptops are currently in circulation with Sony batteries, according to reports, however the firm believes that it will not be affected (at least at the time of IT Weekly going to press).

HP?s confidence is based on strict quality control standards, with HP claiming to have reviewed and rejected battery parts from Sony for up to a year before buying any.

The firm therefore believes that it was already able to successfully catch any faulty batteries and won?t be affected.

Sadly for Hurd, that level of checking seems to have been missing from other areas of HP?s operations and even if the vendor does manage to avoid issues of overheating machines, plenty of people are currently seeing smoke at HP ? and the fear is that there will be fire there as well.

Certainly there has already been plenty of fallout from the ?pretexting? scandal ? in which HP hired outside consultants to find out who had been leaking information from boardroom meetings to the media.

The probe has been accused of using illegal methods, with investigators impersonating other people to get hold of confidential phone records, a practice known as pretexting.

The latest casualty was the company?s general counsel Ann Baskins, who fell on her sword and resigned from the company where she had worked for 24 years on the morning of the US Congressional hearing into the allegations.

At that same hearing, Baskins then exercised her US Fifth Amendment right under the US Constitution to remain silent.

While other former HP executives also chose to exercise their constitutional right to remain silent ? as did contractors from the security firm hired by HP to conduct the probe ? both Hurd and Patricia Dunn, the former HP chairman who stood down last month as a result of the scandal, did agree to answer questions ? even if their responses fell far short of accepting blame for the whole affair.

Dunn for instance said that ?I do not take personal responsibility for what happened,? going on to say that ?nobody ever described to me that the fraudulent use of identity was part of the HP way of conducting investigations.?

Hurd now faces a tough task: convincing investors, customers, and HP employees that he can help HP find its way again and resolve this issue.

He also needs to hope that when the smoke clears, there won?t be fire ? or more people fired.

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