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Board fails to decide fate of embattled chairwoman



Published: Mon, September 11, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Subterfuge was used to get information.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Hewlett-Packard Co.'s board of directors adjourned an emergency phone conference Sunday without announcing a decision on the fate of embattled Chairwoman Patricia Dunn, who is facing calls to resign or be fired for ordering an investigation that may have used illegal means to spy on colleagues and journalists.

The board was scheduled to meet again this afternoon, according to HP, a major maker of computers and printers.

Dunn, a former freelance journalist who has become one of the most powerful women in corporate America, ordered the outside investigation of fellow board members to determine who anonymously leaked confidential company information to journalists, especially as it related to the job status of former CEO Carly Fiorina.

As part of their surveillance, the investigators used Social Security numbers and other personal information to impersonate HP directors and journalists. The impostors tricked AT & amp;T and other phone companies into turning over detailed logs of their home and cellular phone calls.

Although a common tactic among private investigators, the subterfuge -- known as "pretexting" -- tests the bounds of California law. The California attorney general has launched a criminal investigation into the matter.

What resulted

Board member George Keyworth II was identified as the source of the leak, and HP responded by barring him from seeking re-election.

Another HP director, longtime Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tom Perkins, resigned from the board in May in protest of the investigators' tactics.

Perkins' departure triggered a chain of events that finally forced HP to publicly disclose its role in the pretexting. Perkins this weekend called on Dunn to resign.

"I acted not from any ill will toward Ms. Dunn but to protect the best interests of HP," Perkins said in a statement. "I think the past months and days have shown that those interests are best served if Ms. Dunn would resign from the board."

Dunn told The Associated Press last week she would resign if asked, but said several fellow board members had urged her to remain on the job despite the criminal investigation.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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