HP's lawyers deservedly take the fall

HP's lawyers deservedly take the fall

Summary: While everyone involved in HP's out of control quest to staunch board leaks is culpable for moments of stupidity or at least poor judgement, the lawyers deserve special note. This morning, prior to testifying  before a U.

TOPICS: Hewlett-Packard

While everyone involved in HP's out of control quest to staunch board leaks is culpable for moments of stupidity or at least poor judgement, the lawyers deserve special note. This morning, prior to testifying  before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee, General Counsel Ann Baskins has resigned. Kevin Hunsaker, HP's senior counsel and director of ethics resigned yesterday. These resignations can be simply explained--the legal division failed to provide good advice, not just legal advice but practical and ethical advice.  Pretexting and spying on reporters may be legal in some corners of the world, but it will tend to blow up in your face if the methods are exposed. Remember Watergate, and how it slowly but surely tainted an entire administration?

While HP board Chairwoman Patricia Dunn has been the focus of attention and was essentially thrown off the board in stages, first as chairwoman and then off the board altogether, she was either ignoring legal advice or getting bad advice. I tend to think it was the latter.

How Chairman and CEO Mark Hurd thought it was OK to send a fake email to one of our reporters as a way to ferret out the leaker is a question he will have to answer today. What was he thinking when he made that decision, and why didn't legal counsel step in and say that wasn't a good idea, or at least avoid the meetings so you can plead ignorance. 

This whole rogue operation could lead to his impeachment, just as Richard Nixon was forced out of office. It's an unlikely outcome, however. Hurd's crime appears to be bad judgement, rather than any explicit criminal behavior, and as we have seen, the lawyers are taking the fall. Whatever the case, today's testimony before elected officials in Washington D.C. will have an impact on his future employment. With Hurd being viewed as HP's savior over the last 18 months due to the company's financial turnaround, the forces of Wall Street patrolling the Beltway will use their influence to keep the CEO from taking a hard fall. You can expect a polite Q&A as Congress spends its precious time on a tawdry boardroom scandal.

See also: News Focus: HP's leak probe.


Topic: Hewlett-Packard

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  • I seem to have forgotten...

    ... why did they do it? Just for fun? Or was there someone sworn to confidentiality leaking board secrets to one of your reporters? Didn't those leaks adversely impact shareholders? Isn't it the duty of the board to ensure that shareholders are not adversely impacted?

    In your gusto to ensure your own interests by spewing story after story about how you personally are offended, you have forgotten your journalistic responsibility of objectiveness and fairness.

    Perhaps just a line or two discussing the sins of board members leaking secrets and the impact on shareholders are in order. I know this subject may not be in your own personal best interests, but it would qualify as fair and objective... wouldn't it?
  • I really don't have a problem with

    the false information "leaked" to the press. The tracking would be acceptable if it were something passive like an image file that needed to be uploaded. That is mearly playing hardball with someone leaking confidential information. I draw the line at something invasive loaded onto another persons computer to track usage or the email. I haven't really heard about what type of payload was involved with the disinformation emails.

    My real issue is with the identity theft (pretexting), everyone asociated with that should go down hard and do hard time. By the way who at HP authorized the release of employee social security numbers in support of the investigation? There should be something illegal about that. Did the head of personnell know they were giving away confidential information? Maybe the affected HP employees should file suit against HP over the release of confidential information.
  • Get a

    life Dan.
    • He already has.

      And he's trying to preserve it by exposing this crap. Meanwhile, you should perhaps take your own advice, meaning that if you're going to post, then why not put some thought into it rather than toss out a hackneyed phrase and feel smug about it. *rolling eyes*