Hurd Deal Inflamed Board

Hewlett-Packard Co.’s board voted to oust Mark Hurd Aug. 6 after the chief executive reached a sexual-harassment-claim settlement that directors thought impeded their probe of the claim, according to a person familiar with the board’s thinking.

The settlement between Mr. Hurd and Jodie Fisher, a former marketing contractor for H-P (HPQ), was reached on the evening of Aug. 4 without the board’s input or knowledge, this person said. It scuttled a mediation session set for the next day at which Ms. Fisher and her lawyer were to meet with H-P’s outside counsel and Mr. Hurd’s personal lawyer, people familiar with the matter said.

The effect was to short-circuit the board’s investigation and increase mistrust among directors who already felt Mr. Hurd hadn’t been fully cooperating with the internal probe, said the person familiar with the board’s thinking.

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