HP settles pretexting cases

Hewlett-Packard settled cases with The New York Times and three BusinessWeek journalists after being caught spying on reporters

Hewlett-Packard settled cases with The New York Times Company and three BusinessWeek journalists Wednesday after being caught spying on reporters in 2006.

The parties did not disclose the size of the settlements. HP has already paid $4.5 million in a civil-case settlement with the State of California related to the incident.

The New York Times plans to donate its settlement money to charity, said Terry Gross, the attorney representing the company and the BusinessWeek reporters.

HP said it was pleased to put the matter behind it and happy that the award would go partly to charity.

The case followed revelations in 2006 that HP had hired investigators to try to find the source of internal company leaks to the press. The investigators, however, were found to have used fraudulent methods, known as pretexting, to obtain the reporters' phone records. State and federal laws have since banned the practice.

"The New York Times and the BusinessWeek reporters brought this action because they believed that this type of illegal activity aimed at silencing the press should not be allowed," Gross said.

The scandal shook up the executive leadership at HP, with the chairman, another board member and the company's general counsel all stepping down.

HP faces other outstanding lawsuits relating to the incident.

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