(Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Jodie Fisher, former HP contractor, whose sexual harassment suit led to Mr. Hurd's sacking  (Source: IMDB)
Board and Hurd allies resort to he said she said; Hurd was ogling clips of Fisher at work

Sources close to the world's largest computer maker, Hewlett-Packard, defended the decision by the company's board members to oust 5-year CEO Mark Hurd on August 6.  Speaking with The Wall Street Journal, a news outlet owned by News Corp. which Mr. Hurd himself is on the board of directors for, the source said that corporate internet records show that Mr. Hurd viewed racy clips of adult actress-turned-HP contractor Jodie Fisher, with whom he's accused of having inappropriate relations.

A source close to Mr. Hurd disagrees.  They say that they were familiar with the incident and Mr. Hurd merely was doing a Google search of 10 minutes or so.

Mr. Hurd joined HP in 2005, replacing previous CEO Carly Fiorina.  Under his leadership HP passed its rival Dell to become the world's largest PC manufacturer.  Jodie Fisher, now age 50, had starred in softcore porn titles like 
Intimate Obsession and Body of Influence 2.  She went to work for Mr. Hurd's office as an event greeter in 2007.

Soon after, Caprice Fimbres McIlvaine, who was known at HP as Mr. Hurd's chief of staff, introduced the pair.  The dinner was followed by a week-long hotel stay in September, arranged by Ms. McIlvaine, who has since resigned from HP.

Ms. Fisher would go on to work at several more events, with the official function being to make sure Mr. Hurd spent enough time with CEOs of other companies.  She received $1,000 to $5,000 in compensation per event.  

Then in 2009 she left the company, returning home to New Jersey to work at her family's staffing company.  The sexual harassment claims appears to have been filed earlier this year.  Upon receiving the letter informing him of suit, Mr. Hurd reportedly almost immediately passed it off to HP's general counsel, Michael Holston.

Mr. Hurd denied having sexual relations with Ms. Fisher and reportedly said "this was something that could be negotiated and it would go away."  When the board was informed they disagreed with Mr. Hurd and demanded full disclosure, according to a source, they believed that the details "would come out eventually, and in retrospect, the board and Mark would look like they didn't do their jobs right."

A settlement reached the evening of August 4 is also a bone of contention between the various parties.  Hurd's friend says that the company repeatedly told Mr. Hurd to settle as soon as possible and denied him direct conversations with board members.  The source close to the board, on the other hand, claims the board was shocked by Mr. Hurd's settlement.  They say that the board would have been happy to talk to Mr. Hurd, but that he never approached them.  They accuse Mr. Hurd of keeping the board in the dark, complicating the situation.

The source close to the board complains, "Mark had unanimous support going into this.  The board was keenly interested in keeping him.  It wasn't a matter of the allegations themselves.  The board didn't know what other evidence might exist because it never got to see it."

So did Mr. Hurd deceive the board?  Or did the board tell Mr. Hurd one thing, only to change their tune and can him after he did what they said?  Oracle CEO Larry Ellison already went on the record, accusing the HP board of impropriety.  But at this point, it's just a matter of one party's word versus the other.

At the end of the day HP must find new leadership as they search for a new CEO.  And Mr. Hurd is left to continue his other ventures -- such as his News Corp. board position -- with a $35M USD severance package from HP.

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton

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