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HP continues clean-up operation

Under-fire firm hires ethics compliance officer

Hewlett Packard is hiring a chief ethics and compliance officer to make sure its businesses practices, sullied by a boardroom spying scandal, remain on the straight and narrow.

The company has appointed Jon Hoak, a former legal counsel for NCR, to the ethics post, which is a vice presidency. Hoak will report to chief executive officer, president and chairman Mark Hurd, until a new HP general counsel is named. Hurd was CEO of NCR before being hired by HP in March 2005.

Hoak will be responsible for HP’s adherence to its Standards of Business Conduct and will perform an independent assessment of HP's current investigative practices and develop future best practices.

The HP general counsel position has been vacant since Ann Baskins resigned from the position on 28 September, the day she and other HP executives were called to testify at a House subcommittee hearing about the HP scandal. Baskins was one of several witnesses who declined to testify, citing their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Five people, including former HP chairman Patricia Dunn, former legal counsel Kevin Hunsaker, and three private detectives, face felony charges in Santa Clara County, California, Superior Court. Dunn authorised, and Hunsaker led, an investigation of boardroom leaks to news media. The private detectives HP hired allegedly engaged in pretexting, the use of false pretences, to gain access to telephone records of HP directors, other employees, and journalists to trace the source of the leaks. The state of California charges that those practices are illegal.

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