Ousted Hewlett-Packard Co chairperson Patricia Dunn has come to blows with former fellow HP director Tom Perkins, the man arguably responsible for her ouster, in advance of the pair heading to court to battle out the HP pretexting scandal.
Dunn’s lawyer yesterday lashed out at unfair and cowardly comments made by Perkins at a Tuesday conference, saying that his accusations against Dunn will be impeached when Perkins takes the witness box.
Dunn has been indicted on four felony counts by the California attorney general after last year’s revelations that she instigated an investigation into business journalists and HP directors that resulted in private phone records being misappropriated by private detectives.
James Brosnahan of the law firm Morrison & Foerster, Dunn’s lead counsel, yesterday accused Perkins of attempting to further prejudice the public against Patricia Dunn.
Tom Perkins attacked my client. He did so unfairly. He did so falsely when he knows she cannot answer him, Broshahan said in a statement. He has made the biggest mistake of his career. He is a bully, and he is bullying the wrong people.
The statement came in response to an address Perkins gave at a Dow Jones venture capital conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, in which Perkins said the pretexting scandal was merely the tip of a boardroom power struggle iceberg.
Everything you’ve been reading about leaks at HP is in my opinion mostly a red herring, he said in his address, a portion of which was webcast by CNet. I see this embarrassing public mess as actually the culmination of a war for control of the board of this IT company.
HP’s spying on reporters’ and directors’ phone records started after several news outlets started carrying anonymous quotes from an anonymous board-level source.
The source turned out to be George Jay Keyworth, but when Perkins discovered that phone records had been misappropriated he quit in protest, and later told his story to Newsweek after HP itself appeared to be burying the full details of the disagreement.
Perkins claimed Tuesday that he believed the leak probe was more about Dunn’s attempts to consolidate power than it was about the leaks themselves.
The battle was over Dunn’s efforts, only thinly disguised, to eliminate the handful of Silicon Valley cronies who were former friends of Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett — principally me and Dr jay Keyworth, Perkins said, citing an article by former HP chief executive Carly Fiorina.
This, according to Dunn’s attorney, is not the case.
Mr Perkins has rewritten the history of the Hewlett-Packard board and attacked its competence, Brosnahan said. He has suggested that he alone cares about a profit. Rarely has a prominent businessman uttered such an immediate self-refuting statement. Hewlett-Packard is Hewlett-Packard and it seems to be getting along quite well without Mr Perkins.
HP has been doing fairly well recently, managing to seize the PC market share crown from rival Dell Inc in a couple of quarters last year.
Brosnahan further claimed that Perkins was partly motivated to speak out by the forthcoming publication of his book, which will contain a chapter of the HP scandal.