Hewlett-Packard’s embattled chair, Patricia Dunn, has now quit her post and left the board in the wake of the spying scandal that has engulfed the company.
The firm had announced earlier this month that Dunn would step down as chair next January but would continue on the board. But HP has confirmed that she has left both her post and the company board, “effective immediately”. HP chief executive Mark Hurd has replaced Dunn as chair.
The resignation follows the company’s admission that it used “pretexting” – where people pose as legitimate customers of phone companies – to get access to phone records of board directors, journalists and staff in a bid to stem boardroom leaks to the media.
Dunn is said to have overseen the leak investigation, carried out by an outside firm which is understood to have sub-contracted the “pretexting” operation to other investigators.
HP is now facing an investigation by the US attorney’s office in San Francisco and an inquiry by a Congress committee into the spying operation.
Hurd said, “We have spent the past few weeks getting further clarity as to what happened in the investigation into the disclosure of unauthorised material from the board. While this process is not yet complete, it is clear that inappropriate steps were taken in conducting this work.
“I wish to apologise both personally and on behalf of HP to each of those who were affected. We believe these unacceptable measures were isolated instances that do not reflect the broader behavior and values of HP, its employees or its board. But they cannot occur here again. Our actions today are intended to ensure that they never do.”
The company said it had launched its own independent review of its investigative methods and Standards of Business Conduct processes, to be headed by former US prosecutor Bart Schwartz. HP was “seeking to take appropriate action” in relation to the leak investigation, it said.
HP also announced that Richard Hackborn has been named independent lead director of the company, also effective immediately.
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