New board scandal details prompt HP to become proactive

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Chicago (IL) - Several new details surrounding HP's boardroom leak scandal were made public on Thursday and upgraded the investigation into what the Associated Press called a "new weirdness level": CEO Mark Hurd is suspected to have approved a spying campaign against a reporter, to extract details about the origins of a leak. HP reacted and said it plans to brief the press on Friday.

The accusations against Hurd were first reported by the Washington Post and claim that the chief executive approved an email campaign that was requested by chairman Patricia Dunn and targeted a News.com reporter. The report indicates that HP used emails from a fictious "tipster" to gain a reporter's trust, whereas one email included a trojan horse that was designed to report back to whom the reporter was talking to.

The fact that HP could have planted actual software on a journalist's computer - and the network of a publication - reaches a new height of media leak investigations in the industry. To this date, corporate investigations into journalists were - at least officially - limited to "light" tipster campaigns and the search of employee's email and phone records.

Apparently to avoid another possibility to lose control of the situation, HP said that it will be holding a press conference on Friday to "discuss the actions HP is taking to address issues regarding the investigation of leaks from its boardroom." The briefing will also include a representative from HP's law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, who will provide information regarding the investigation of the leaks, the company said.

In a press release distribute on Thursday, Hurd was quoted saying "This has nothing to do with the strategy or operations of HP," said Hurd. "What began as an effort to prevent the leaks of confidential information from HP's boardroom ended up heading in directions that were never anticipated. (...) We plan to give as much clarity as we can to these matters."