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Report: GC Complicit in HP's Train Wreck

Baskins_ann1 Since her resignation Sept. 28 as Hewlett-Packard general counsel, Ann Baskins' role in the company's spying scandal has remained largely a mystery. Now, Sue Reisinger, in her article for Corporate Counsel magazine, Did Ann Baskins See No Evil at HP?, has pierced the veil of what Baskins knew and when she knew it. Reisinger analyzed more than 1,500 pages of documents and interviewed people close to the case to conclude that Baskins had the knowledge and the power to stop the spying, but failed to act:

"In the end, the HP scandal comes down to this: The spying probe became a runaway train. And Ann Baskins was the person in the best position to recognize the danger and stop it. But she didn't. In fact, the records show that from June 2005 to April 2006, Baskins raised legal questions about the tactics at least six times. But she never pushed for a definitive answer about whether the methods used were, in fact, lawful. Or, more importantly, whether they were unwise and dangerous to the company. In retrospect she could have, and should have, shut down the throttle on this train long before it crashed."

Even Baskins concedes that she should have done more, Reisinger reports. Her lawyer told Corporate Counsel that she fully recognized that instead of solely focusing on whether the investigation was legal, Baskins also should have questioned whether it was ethical.

This is a well-written and well-reported piece that answers important questions about the role of HP's general counsel.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on December 19, 2006 at 05:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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