Last updated: March 14, 2007 7:54 pm

Dunn in clear in HP spying case

A California judge on Wednesday dismissed all charges against Patricia Dunn, the former HP chairman who was last year forced to resign under a cloud of controversy after a boardroom spying scandal that rocked the world’s biggest IT group.

Ms Dunn and three other co-defendants had been facing felony charges for their alleged role in the scandal, in which operatives acting on behalf of HP’s board used false pretences to obtain private telephone records in order to ferret out the source of a boardroom leak.

Under a settlement reached on Wednesday, the California attorney general agreed to drop the state’s case against Ms Dunn.

Ms Dunn, the former chairman and chief executive of Barclays Global Investors, said in a statement through her attorney on Wednesday that she was “pleased the matter had been resolved fairly”. “I have always had faith that the truth would win out and justice would be served, and it has been,” Ms Dunn said.

Charges against her four other co-defendants were reduced to misdemeanours. Those charges will be dismissed after six months following the completion of community service. Prosecutors agreed to waive community service for Ms Dunn, who is fighting cancer.

The attorney general’s office said that federal prosecutors were still free to file charges in the case if they chose to do so.

Michael Pancer, attorney for Kevin Hunsaker, HP’s former top ethics official, who was also facing charges over the scandal, said his client was “very happy with today’s events”.

Attorneys for the other HP co-defendants could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Bryan Wagner, a private contractor hired by HP’s investigators to unearth the telephone numbers of HP board members, journalists and their families, in January pleaded guilty to federal charges of identity theft and conspiracy after California prosecutors agreed to drop the state’s case against him.

Ms Dunn, who bore the brunt of public ire over the scandal, was forced to resign as HP chairman after it emerged last autumn that HP’s operatives fraudulently obtained telephone numbers, and performed undercover “sting” operations against board members, journalists, HP employees and their families.

Ms Dunn has maintained that, although she oversaw some aspects of the leak investigation, she was not aware of its tactics.

Supporters of Ms Dunn, including several people in the financial community who knew her from her days at Barclays, have said Ms Dunn had been treated unfairly throughout the scandal and its aftermath.

Hilda Ochoa, president of Strategic Investment Group, an investment management company and a supporter of Ms Dunn, said on Wednesday that she was “delighted that justice had been restored”.

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