HP denies pretexting former employee

Company says in court filing it never accessed phone records of a former exec it is suing over alleged theft of trade secrets.

In a court filing on Tuesday, Hewlett-Packard denied allegations that it pretexted a former employee with whom it is engaged in a legal dispute.

In 2005, HP sued Karl Kamb, a former vice president of business development and strategy, alleging he stole company trade secrets. In January, Kamb countersued HP alleging that his phone records were improperly obtained and also charging that he was instructed by HP management to spy on rival Dell.

"HP denies that the so-called pretexting alleged by Kamb in the counterclaim occurred," the company said in a filing made Tuesday with a federal court in Tyler, Texas. "HP denies that any so-called pretexting activities were part of a widespread pattern or practice at HP."

While HP denies pretexting Kamb, the company has said that as part of a separate--and now infamous leak probe--it obtained or tried to obtain the phone records of more than a dozen people including current and former directors, employees and journalists, including three CNET News.com reporters.

Last month, the judge handling the case, District Court Judge Michael Schneider ordered Kamb to withdraw his countersuit and issued an injunction barring both sides from publicly discussing the case. Schneider said that Kamb could refile the case under seal.

Significant portions of HP's filing Tuesday were also made under seal.

Among the things the company did note publicly, is the fact that former ethics attorney Kevin Hunsaker was terminated by HP. The company confirmed in September that he had left the company's employ, but declined to say whether he resigned or was terminated.

Hunsaker has emerged as a central figure in both cases. In the leak probe, he faces felony charges over his role in allegedly overseeing the investigation, including the pretexting. In the current case, Kamb alleges that Hunsaker initially denied pretexting Kamb, but later admitted that HP did pretext him.

In its filing Tuesday, HP denied that Hunsaker "ever acknowledged that HP had engaged in so-called pretexting against Kamb."

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