Hewlett-Packard Head Under Scrutiny

Hewlett-Packard Chairwoman Patricia Dunn speaks during a news conference about new HP new CEO Mark Hurd at HP headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., Wednesday, March 30, 2005. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
AP Photo
Hewlett-Packard Co. Chairwoman Patricia Dunn said Friday that several of her fellow board members want her to remain on the job despite a criminal investigation into her efforts to plug a media leak.

Dunn's crusade spawned a ruse to obtain the personal phone records of company directors and at least nine reporters. It put HP's board at the center of an imbroglio that threatens to distract the Palo Alto-based company as it tries to build on a recent run of success in the personal computer and other high-tech markets.

"I serve at the pleasure of the board," Dunn told The Associated Press in an interview. "I totally trust their judgment. If they think it would be better for me to step aside, I would do that. But a number of directors have urged me to hang in there."

Incensed by several media stories that quoted unnamed people about information shared during HP board meetings, Dunn authorized an investigation earlier this year to determine if any of the company's directors were talking out of turn.

The inquiry convinced HP that George Keyworth II had been providing reporters with confidential company information. The company is punishing him by preventing him from running for re-election to the board.

In Friday's interview, Dunn branded the leaks as an "egregious breach" of HP's standards and emphasized the investigation was conducted with the full backing of the board. "This was not my spy campaign on our board."

She said HP's board would hold a conference call this weekend to discuss the leak probe.

As part of their surveillance, the company's investigators posed as HP directors and at least nine reporters to obtain personal phone records. As part of the masquerade, the investigators used the Social Security numbers of the people involved to dupe the phone companies into turning over the records.