Hurd faces questions on his knowledge of leaks

HP spy scandal continues as Dunn stands down

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By  Published  September 29, 2006

The HP information leak saga is showing no signs of dying down, with chairman Patricia Dunn bringing forward her resignation to take effect immediately, and CEO and president Mark Hurd facing questioning for his role in events.

Hurd, who will take over from Dunn as chairman in addition to his other roles, has admitted for the first time that he had some knowledge of what was going on and apologised for his role in events.

HP is in the spotlight for having used dubious, and possibly illegal, means to obtain information for an internal investigation into leaked information from its board meetings to the media.

The probe, which was carried out by an external firm, was deemed suspect as its investigators impersonated other people in order to get hold of confidential phone records, a technique known as pretexting.

HP said this month that Dunn’s departure had been speeded up and that she had resigned from the board on September 22 with immediate effect. Dunn had already announced she was to step down as chairman but was originally due to do so inJanuary next year.

At a press briefing at HP headquarters in Palo Alto, California, Hurd admitted that he knew about some questionable aspects of the probe and apologised for actions, which he said were “very disturbing to me.”

At the briefing, Hurd said that complete details of the investigation might never be uncovered. He did, however, admit to attending a meeting that discussed early results of the probe and later attending another meeting where a verbal summary of the probe’s second phase was provided.

“I understand there is also a written report of the investigation addressed to me and others, but I did not read it. I could have and I should have,” he told journalists.

Hurd did not take questions at the briefing, but would still have to face the music at the end of the month when he was due to appear — together with Dunn — before a US House of Representatives subcommittee looking into HP’s probe.

Dunn stated: “I have resigned today at the request of the board. The unauthorised disclosure of confidential information was a serious violation of our code of conduct.”

She went on to say that she accepted the responsibility to identify the sources of the leaks, but did not propose the specific methods of the investigation or select the people who conducted it.

She said that the people that HP had relied on to conduct the probe had “let me and the company down.”

In a statement, Hurd apologised for his involvement in the issue: “I wish to apologise both personally and on behalf of HP to each of those who were affected,” he said.

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