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HP board meeting makes no progress

Calls for 'appalled' chairman to resign

HP's board of directors took no action at a special meeting yesterday and will reconvene later today to continue discussions about the scandal that has occupied the company over the past week.

The board held a teleconference yesterday morning for several hours, according to a brief company statement issued yesterday afternoon, to discuss reports that outside investigators, acting on behalf of the board, obtained phone records of directors and journalists to trace the source of information leaks regarding board meetings.

The investigators' tactic of disguising their true identity in order to gain access to customer records, called 'pretexting', may be in violation of the law and the California Attorney General's office is investigating the case.

HP gave no reason in its statement for the move to adjourn Sunday's meeting to today.

HP board chairman Patricia Dunn has been criticised for launching the investigation, including calls for her resignation. Dunn said she was 'appalled' that the investigators engaged in pretexting but said that she was not told details of how they conducted their probe. While she has said that she won't resign on her own, she would step down if the board requested her to do so.

The investigation determined that HP director George Keyworth was the source of a CNet story in January about HP's business strategy. When Keyworth was asked to resign from the board in May, he refused. But board member Thomas Perkins, a renowned Silicon Valley venture capitalist, resigned in protest over the way in which the investigation was conducted.

HP chief executive officer Mark Hurd, in a letter to company employees released late on Friday, urged them to keep focused on their work. "The media coverage and speculation regarding the recent actions of the HP Board... have nothing to do with the strategy or operations of Hewlett-Packard," he said.

Hurd, who emphasised that he was speaking as CEO and not as a board member, added: "There has been a long history of leaking company information with the HP board that clearly needs to be resolved."

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