Hurd to brief newsmen on HP spy scam findings

In one of his first public acts to address the burgeoning Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) spy scandal, Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd plans to brief reporters Friday about the findings of an analysis conducted by the company’s law firm.

HP retained Morgan, Lewis & Bockius for the outside analysis of the company’s actions in trying to find the source of a boardroom news leak.

The scandal led to the resignation of company Chairman Patricia Dunn, who will turn over that job to Hurd in January. Dunn and Hurd have said they knew about the operation, but insist they never approved of the possible illegal methods used by third-party investigators to obtain communications records of reporters and some HP employees and directors.

“What began as an effort to prevent the leaks of confidential information from HP’s board room ended up heading in directions that were never anticipated,” Hurd said in a written statement. However, company e-mail records seem to indicate that both executives knew about the investigators’ “pretexting” practices while they were going on, according to recent stories in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Pretexting involves pretending to be someone to obtain their telephone records.

In Friday’s meeting, a representative from the law firm will share its findings, describing “exactly what took place and when,” Hurd said. Dunn has also said she will share more information about the episode, promising to “set the record straight” about allegations that she oversaw the illegal operation.

Morgan Lewis will also represent the company in government inquiries such as criminal investigations by the California and Massachusetts attorneys general, and by the U.S. House of Representatives. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has said that he has enough evidence to indict certain people at HP and its contractors with crimes related to their methods in obtaining private phone records of reporters, board members and other employees.