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HP appoints Holston as general counsel

New appointee had key role in company's pretexting scandal as an external counsel.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
Hewlett-Packard announced Wednesday that it has appointed Michael J. Holston to the position of executive vice president and general counsel.

Holston, currently a partner at the Philadelphia law firm Morgan Lewis, has worked with HP as an external counsel for over a decade. Previously, he served as a prosecutor in the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the eastern district of Pennsylvania. At HP, where he plans to assume his new role on February 22, he will be responsible for legal affairs, compliance, ethics, privacy issues and government affairs.

While acting as an external counsel to HP, Holston held a key role in handling legal matters for the company's high-profile pretexting scandal, which rattled the company and prompted the resignation of Chairman Patricia Dunn. He represented the company at a press conference where CEO Mark Hurd acknowledged that he had known about the journalist probe that targeted reporters at several news outlets, including CNET News.com.

HP ultimately admitted to hiring private investigators to dig up the sources of news leaks obtained by nine reporters, in some cases accessing their personal phone records. Additionally, the company had taken further probing measures that involved obtaining Social Security numbers and sending bogus e-mail tips to track electronic records.

HP's previous general counsel, Ann O. Baskins, resigned hours before congressional hearings on the affair began. Baskins had refused to testify before Congress, citing Fifth Amendment rights.