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HP Counsel Baskins Resigns, Refuses to Testify

UPDATED: Ann Baskins, Hewlett-Packard's general counsel, has resigned and will not testify before a Congressional committee investigating techniques used during an internal leak probe.

The resignation increases the ranks of ex-HP executives slated to testify before Congress about their role in what the computer maker's CEO Mark Hurd termed a "rogue operation" that included snooping on reporters to pinpoint the source of boardroom meeting leaks.

"We have instructed Ms. Baskins to invoke her Constitutional protection under the Fifth Amendement and, thus, Ms. Baskins will not provide testimony before the Subcommittee today," according to a letter from the former HP legal counsel's lawyers, Arguedas, Cassman & Headley, presented prior to today's hearings.

While Baskins wanted to defend her actions, "given the current environment, however, Ms. Baskins simply had no choice," the letter continued.

"In hindsight, Ms. Baskins wishes she had more actively inquired about the methods being used and taken steps to halt any that were inconsistent with HP's high ethical standards, such as pretexting."

While deciding not to testify, Baskins' legal team also wrote that the former HP executive repeatedly asked for and received assurances from the company's senior legal counsel accessing non-HP phone records was legal.

"The senior counsel consulted with an outside counsel and was assured the methods were legal," according to the letter obtained by internetnews.com.

An HP spokesperson refused comment beyond a brief statement issued today.

"She has put the interests of HP above her own and that is to be commended," said Hurd in a statement said Thursday.

Today's resignation follows two other employees leaving the company earlier this week.

Tuesday, Kevin Hunsaker, the firm's senior counsel and ethics director, along with Anthony Gentilucci, HP Boston's security manager, resigned in the wake of the unfolding scandal.

Former HP chairperson Patricia Dunn resigned last Friday.

Dunn plans to tell Congress today that she didn't learn pretexting was used in a company investigation of boardroom media leaks until after the probe concluded.

In prepared testimony for Thursday morning's House hearing on the HP scandal, Dunn states she first heard of pretexting –- assuming a false identity to obtain a person's personal telephone records –- in a June e-mail exchange between former board member Tom Perkins and HP outside counsel Larry Sonsini.