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HP chairman quits over 'spy row'

HP chairman quits over 'spy row'

The chairman of Hewlett-Packard (HP) is to step down from the role amid criticism for demanding a probe into leaks about the firm made to the media. Patricia Dunn will resign as chairman of the board in January, but will remain a non-executive director. She apologised for the unorthodox investigation of other boardmembers, which included hiring undercover consultants who posed as journalists. Chief executive Mark Hurd will become chairman in the reshuffle. The US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee has ordered HP to hand over records related to its internal inquiry into boardroom leaks. California and US authorities have been investigating whether any laws were broken during the investigation. "I am taking action to ensure that inappropriate investigative techniques will not be employed again," Mr Hurd said. "They have no place in HP." 'Inappropriate' In a bid to discover which employee had leaked "confidential" reports to the press, investigators obtained the phone records and other data of journalists and HP employees without their permission. The practice, known as "pretexting", is a common one among private investigators - but tests the limits of California state laws, as prosecutors believe it violates laws covering identity theft and unauthorised access to computer data. In a statement, Ms Dunn apologised for the techniques used. "Unfortunately, the investigation, which was conducted with third parties, included certain inappropriate techniques," she said. "These went beyond what we understood them to be, and I apologize that they were employed." Last week, Ms Dunn said she had no idea of the tactics to which private investigators would resort, adding she was "appalled" that journalists had been targeted. Barred Board member George Keyworth was identified as the source of the leak. Mr Keyworth stated that he had leaked information but refused to step down, despite being asked to. As a penalty, HP barred him from seeking re-election to the board.

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