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Ellison lashes out at HP board over Hurd exit

Oracle CEO sends e-mail to The New York Times lambasting decision by HP directors to oust CEO Hurd over sexual harassment claim, inaccurate expense reports.

Oracle might be in business competition with Hewlett-Packard, but that didn't stop its CEO Larry Ellison from coming to the defense of friend and former HP CEO Mark Hurd on Monday.

Ellison sent an "impassioned" e-mail to The New York Times on Monday, decrying the HP board's decision to ask for Hurd's resignation on Friday.

"The HP board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago," Ellison said in the e-mail. "That decision nearly destroyed Apple and would have if Steve hadn't come back and saved them."

Hurd resigned as top executive of the world's largest technology company by revenue on Friday, after a company investigation found that he had turned in inaccurate expense reports, reportedly in the range of $1,000 to $20,000. The company's board unearthed that information after investigating claims by a former contractor to HP, Jodie Fisher, that Hurd had sexually harassed her. Hurd was cleared of sexual harassment by HP's board, and he settled out of court with Fisher last week.

Ellison, who is a personal friend of Hurd, said that the fact that HP's own investigation found no truth to the harassment claim should not have led to Hurd's removal.

"In losing Mark Hurd, the HP board failed to act in the best interest of HP's employees, shareholders, customers and partners...The HP board admits that it fully investigated the sexual harassment claims against Mark and found them to be utterly false," according to the e-mail to the Times.

The board's decision was unusually tough given that both Hurd and Fisher claim the relationship was not romantic and that Hurd reportedly offered to repay the up to $20,000 in misreported expenses.

The issue seemed to come down to whether to disclose the harassment claim publicly. Ellison claims that at first the board was split 6-4 over disclosure. On Friday, board member Marc Andreessen said the decision was unanimous.

The Times' report also says that once the board decided against Hurd's wishes to disclose the harassment claim, the relationship between the board and Hurd "turned more antagonistic." Both sides agreed that Hurd's resignation was the right next step.

Ellison isn't alone in his displeasure with HP's decision. Wall Street also did not look too kindly on it, sending HP's stock down 7.4 percent Monday.