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Sep 12 2006   3:26PM GMT

HP’s Dunn Steps Down Following Leak Investigation

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Hewlett-Packard announced today that Patricia Dunn, who chairs its board of directors, will resign and be replaced by CEO Mark V. Hurd, who will assume both titles.

Her resignation follows revelation of the methods HP investigators used to try to uncover the source of information leaks to the press from a member of the board of directors. The leak involved a CNET story describing a days-long retreat taken by top HP executives and board members to plan strategy for the coming months.

Dunn did launch the investigation, after deciding the leaked information could affect the price of HP’s stock, but did not supervise it directly because — as a board member — she was a possible target of the investigation.

Long-serving board member George A. Keyworth II, who confirmed that he was the source of the leaks, also resigned.

Among other methods, the investigators — some of whom worked directly for HP and others who were contractors — used a technique euphemized as “pretexting” to get access to phone records of HP board members and several reporters. Pretexters call phone companies and lie about their identities in an effort to have the otherwise-private phone records of a target given to them.
Dunn apologized in a published statement that said, in part: “Unfortunately, the investigation, which was conducted with third parties, included certain inappropriate techniques. These went beyond what we understood them to be, and I apologize that they were employed.”

In another published statement, Hurd promised he would take “action to ensure that inappropriate investigative techniques will not be employed again. They have no place in H.P.”

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