- The Washington Times - Friday, September 22, 2006

PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) — Hewlett-Packard Co. shoved Chairwoman Patricia Dunn off its board yesterday, severing its ties to a leader whose efforts to plug a press leak morphed into a spying scandal that has spawned criminal and congressional investigations.

The company will turn the chairmanship over to its chief executive, Mark Hurd, who was to take that job in January.

But things have changed since then in a wave of leaked documents revealing how deeply HP’s investigators intruded into the personal lives of seven directors, nine journalists, two employees and family members of those targeted individuals. Mrs. Dunn authorized the investigation and received regular updates, although she said she didn’t realize HP’s investigators were going to such extremes.

“Now that we know the depth of what has transpired, I take full accountability to drive the actions to set it right,” Mr. Hurd told reporters as he announced Mrs. Dunn’s departure and reviewed what the company has learned about its spying program. He took no questions.

Mrs. Dunn had planned to remain an HP director after relinquishing the chairmanship in January, but now she is leaving the board entirely.

Mrs. Dunn, 53, continued to defend her decision to initiate the probe to identify the boardroom leak and reiterated her intention to appear Thursday before a congressional panel looking into HP’s spying spree.

Determined to protect confidential board discussions, Mrs. Dunn hired investigators who impersonated board members, employees and journalists to obtain their phone records. The detectives also conducted a surveillance on an HP director and concocted an e-mail sting to dupe a reporter for CNET.

Mr. Hurd yesterday acknowledged authorizing the bogus e-mail, but said he didn’t recall approving the use of software to trace the reporter’s computer.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer and several federal agencies are investigating whether HP and its executives broke any laws in their crusade.

Mr. Hurd so far isn’t among the group of HP insiders who Mr. Lockyer expects to charge, spokesman Tom Dresslar said yesterday. But the attorney general is still examining Mr. Hurd’s role in the scandal. “We are not ruling anybody out in terms of criminal culpability,” he said.

Mr. Hurd also said yesterday he plans to appear at the hearing being held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Mrs. Dunn and General Counsel Ann Baskins, who also played a central role in the spying program, previously accepted the panel’s invitation to appear.

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