Hewlett-Packard Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Hurd has an incomplete recollection of details of a crucial internal meeting on the HP board scandal, according to new information released this week.
The company released Hurd's answers to questions from a U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee investigating HP's potentially illegal use of false pretenses to get access to phone records of HP employees, board members and journalists.
The subcommittee's questions concerned a July 22, 2005, meeting of HP officials and private investigators at which Hurd was told that the probe focused on "obtaining phone record information off the Web."
Several times in the transcript of Hurd's answers, he responds that he doesn't remember who said that and didn't ask what was meant by that phrase.
"In retrospect I wish that I had been more focused on investigatory methodologies when the remark was made," he stated. "Had I been, I might have questioned the remark or pressed for more details on the investigation. Unfortunately, I was not focused on the issue, so I did not dive into the details."
In eight pages of questions and answers, Hurd was pressed further about the phrase "phone record information off the Web."
"I simply thought there might be some Web site containing publicly available information about phone records," he stated.
In previous testimony and public statements, Hurd said he was sent a report in April 2006 on the progress of a second investigation of leaks, but lamented that he hadn't read the report. That report detailed use of pretexting -- a method of pretending to be a phone-company customer to gain access to that customer's phone records -- and concerns about the legality of such a practice.
The HP investigations were trying to determine who had leaked news of confidential board meetings to the media.
Hurd said he did not think anything improper had been done by the investigators until director Thomas Perkins resigned in protest in May 2006 after revealing that his phone carrier, AT&T, had told him his phone records had been surreptitiously obtained.
The transcript of questions submitted to Hurd by Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee chairman Ed Whitfield also mentions that the phone records of Hurd's HP-issued cell phone had been obtained as part of the investigation, but that Hurd says he didn't inquire as to how or why they had been obtained.
Former HP Chairman Patricia Dunn, a former company lawyer and three private investigators are facing felony charges in a Santa Clara County, California, Superior Court for using allegedly illegal tactics to investigate the board leaks.
Hurd and Dunn were among several witnesses called before the House Subcommittee on Sept. 28 to answer questions about their probe. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, of which the Subcommittee is a part, backs legislation to make pretexting a federal crime.