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Hurd snubbed HP board to settle claims

Spinners get busy on CEO exit

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The board of HP felt snubbed by Mark Hurd's solo efforts to settle a sexual harassment case brought by contractor Jodie Fisher.

Hurd and Fisher reached agreement on 4 August without the knowledge or support of the board of directors at HP. The next day there was meant to be a mediation meeting between the two and their lawyers and HP's legal team.

The fact that the board's probe was effectively ended by the agreement increased directors' disquiet at events, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Both sides have been busy getting their side out - other anonymous sources told the paper that the board had repeatedly asked Hurd to get the problem settled before the big legal meeting.

Another "person familiar with the board's thinking" said Hurd turned down the opportunity to talk to the board while "a person familiar with Hurd's thinking disputed this account". This source said Hurd had been prevented from talking to the board, or answering individual director's questions.

It was claimed the board had decided it had enough evidence of misconduct to feel Hurd should go before the settlement was reached.

This misconduct could not include sexual harassment, because those claims were settled. It centered on issues of conflict of interest involved in having any kind of relationship with an HP contractor, as Fisher was, and questions over Hurd's expenses.

Hurd, or rather "a person close to Mr Hurd" said he did not conceal the relationship and didn't fill in his own expenses sheets - some of which mentioned Fisher.

Board sources said that they believed Hurd had at least a personal relationship with Fisher because he had: "looked at clips from racy films featuring Ms. Fisher". Sources representing Hurd said he had just spent ten minutes on Google.

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703382304575431792690877302.html#ixzz0wkyOMY7F

Any hopes the board had that paying Hurd off would make the problem go away seem unlikely to be fulfilled.

Shareholders last week started a lawsuit blaming the board and Hurd for shortcomings which led to the big fall in HP's share price. ®

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