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HP settles lawsuit in spying scandal

February 14, 2008|From the Associated Press

Hewlett-Packard Co. said late Wednesday that it has settled with the New York Times and three BusinessWeek journalists who were spied on as part of the company's boardroom surveillance scheme.

The Palo Alto-based computer and printer maker would not disclose the payment made in the settlement, nor would the lawyer representing the Times, one of its reporters, John Markoff, and BusinessWeek reporters Peter Burrows, Ben Elgin and Roger Crockett.

HP said the parties donated some or all of the money to charity.

The settlement ties up one of the remaining threads left hanging from the spying scandal, which erupted in September 2006 after the company revealed it secretly had examined the private telephone logs of journalists, board members and HP employees to find the source of leaks to the media.

Investigators hired by HP used a technique called "pretexting" -- pretending to be someone they were not -- to fool telephone companies into handing over personal cellphone and home phone records.

The scandal led to the ouster of HP Chairwoman Patricia Dunn and criminal charges in California against her and four private investigators. Those charges were later dropped, but one investigator, Bryan Wagner, pleaded guilty in federal court to identity theft and conspiracy. He is awaiting sentencing.

The settlement, however, does not resolve lawsuits brought by another group of journalists whose phone records also were compromised in HP's probe.

The plaintiffs in those lawsuits, which are still pending, include reporters Dawn Kawamoto, Stephen Shankland and Tom Krazit from online media company CNet Networks Inc.'s and former Associated Press reporter Rachel Konrad, who is Shankland's wife. Other plaintiffs are Kawamoto's husband and Shankland's parents.

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