More Fun with Dunn, or Orwell & The HP Way

Reading HP’s SEC filing this morning on its runaway board invesigation is surreal, an Orwellian exercise in language convolution. Here is the twisted justification therein with respect to the legality of having an outside investigator pose as HP boardmember Tom Perkins to obtain his phone records:

The Committee was further advised that the Chairman and HP had instructed the outside consulting firm to conduct its investigation in accordance with applicable law and that the outside consulting firm and its counsel had confirmed to HP that its techniques were legal. After its review, the Committee determined that the third party retained by HP’s outside consulting firm had in some cases employed pretexting. The Committee was then advised by the Committee’s outside counsel that the use of pretexting at the time of the investigation was not generally unlawful (except with respect to financial institutions), but such counsel could not confirm that the techniques employed by the outside consulting firm and the party retained by that firm complied in all respects with applicable law.

Catch all of that? Rather than simply saying what its investigators did was hunky-dory,  or that it wasn’t, HP says instead that the technique employed (pretending you’re someone you’re not) was “not generally unlawful”, although it didn’t necessarily conform  “in all respects with applicable law”.

Apparently The HP Way has changed in recent years.


  1. This gem of a legal advice should be patented :-)