Hewlett-Packard’s media relations chief was one of two employees whose phone records were improperly accessed during an investigation into boardroom leaks, it emerged at the weekend.

The news marked the latest twist in a scandal that has sparked an upheaval at the top of one of the world’s most powerful companies.

HP said investigators’ suspicions that Michael Moeller, a former journalist, might have been the source of leaks about boardroom deliberations over the future of Carly Fiorina, its former chief executive, were “misplaced and baseless.”

Investigators hired by HP’s board impersonated Mr Moeller, along with board members, nine journalists an a second unnamed employee, in order to obtain private telephone records that could point to the source of the leak.

HP declined to identify the second employee whose phone records were accessed in the probe.

Revelations of potentially illegal spying have sparked a firestorm of controversy and prompted investigations by federal and state prosecutors.

Patricia Dunn, HP’s chairman, last week announced that she would step down in January in an attempt to defuse the crisis. She will be replaced as chairman by Mark Hurd, chief executive.

Mr Moeller said: “I’m still here doing my job. Both Mark and Patti both personally apologised to me and I think that speaks volumes.”

Bill Lockyer, California’s attorney-general, said he had enough evidence to bring criminal charges against people both inside and outside HP for their role in the spying scandal.

Mr Lockyer’s investigation has focused around who carried out and authorised “pretexing” - the use of false pretenses to uncover private telephone records - a practice Mr Lockyer says is illegal under California law.

New details of the board’s investigation continued to emerge at the weekend after news reports linked Anthony Gentilucci, head of a Boston-based internal investigations unit at HP, to Ronald DeLia, a Boston-based private detective who has been called to testify before Congress about his role in the HP leak investigation.

Both Ms Dunn and Mr Hurd have apologised publicly for the use of improper techniques by the HP board’s investigators. However, they have defended the need to clamp down on leaks of confidential information from inside HP.

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