Hewlett Packard CEO Mark Hurd, (left) during a packed news conference at the company’s Palo Alto headquarters today, acknowledged that he approved sending an e-mail to a reporter as part of a sting operation to track down corporate leaks in a scandal that today forced out Chairman Patricia Dunn. Hurd said he would replace Dunn as chairman immediately.

Hurd apologized to the nine reporters who were investigated by detectives hired by the company. Hurd also admitted he approved a plan by private detectives to send an e-mail from an anonymous source to a reporter, but wasn’t aware that spyware was attached to the e-mail that would give the detectives access to the reporter’s computer. Hurd said he is also volunteering to testify before a House committee next week that is investigating the company.

Dunn hired detectives to find out who was leaking board room conversations to reporters. The investigators illegally obtained the phone records of board members, HP employees and nine journalists by using a technique called “pretexting” where investigators pose as phone customers to get confidential phone records. Dunn called the investigator’s tactics “very disturbing.” In the photo above by Benjamin Sklar of AP, Hurd speaks as Mike Holston, an HP attorney, listens in the background. Hurd took no questions at yesterday’s news conference. [New York Times] [CNET News.com] [Associated Press]

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  1. Maybe I’m too skeptical, but it seems like Hurd is as much to blame as anyone. He’s the CEO, right? And he’s saying he knows about parts of the spying program but not other parts? It’s also interesting to see the Merc, in a front page editorial (disguised as a column), say that this scandal has essentially blown over and it’s time to move on. Wonder if the Merc is changing how that Bill Gates is Singleton’s largest lender.

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