HP CEO Hurd resigns following sexual harassment probe

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HP CEO Hurd resigns following sexual harassment probe

Microscope contributor

HP CEO Mark Hurd has quit following a probe into allegations of sexual harassment made by a former contractor.

The world's largest IT firm said tonight that an investigation by outside legal counsel and HP's General Counsel, presided over by the board, found no violation of HP's sexual harassment policy but unearthed serious wrong doings related to its Standard of Business Conduct.

The investigation, which began two weeks earlier, was prompted by allegations of sexual misconduct from a contractor that was hired by the CEO's office to work on marketing activities between 2007 and 2009.

Mark Holston, HP EVP of the General Counsel, revealed the investigation found that Hurd had had a close relationship with the contractor who received compensation or expense reimbursement "where there was not a legitimate business purpose".

There were also numerous instances where Hurd submitted inacurate expense reports, undertsood to range from $1,000 to $20,000, that were intended to conceal the relationship from the board.

"The amount of expenses we are talking about are not material to HP," said Holston, "It wasnt the dollar amount of the expenses that drove the board's decision, it was the systematic pattern of improper expenses and inaccurate reports."

Hurd said: "This is a painful decision for me to take after five years at HP, but I believe it would be difficult for me to continue as an effective leader at HP and I believe this is the only decision the board and I could make at this time," Hurd said.  

"As the investigation progressed, I realised there were instances in which I did not live up to the standards and principles of trust, respect and integrity that I have espoused at HP and which have guided me throughout my career," he added.

The board has initiated the search for a successor both internally and externally but in the interim CFO and 24-year HP veteran Cathie Lesjak has taken control of the firm though she has ruled herself out of the running for the role.   

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