We've just received word that HP chairwoman Patricia Dunn has resigned, effective immediately, in the wake of the corporate spying scandal that has plagued the company for weeks -- keep in mind that this is the same woman who previously said she would not step down until 2007. Earlier this month, it was revealed that while undergoing a leak investigation, HP had hired private investigators who accessed private phone records of company boardmembers and nine journalists without their permission. The investigators are said to have used pretexting -- the sleazy (not to mention illegal) act of impersonating someone else to gain access to their confidential records -- in order to acquire this information. The now-departed chairwoman, who took over from Carly Fiorina only 18 months ago, had authorized the leak investigation earlier this year to learn who among the company's board had revealed corporate information to CNET News in 2005. Dunn, other company higher-ups, and the private investigators will likely face criminal charges; Bill Lockyer, California's attorney general, said earlier this week on "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" that "We currently have sufficient evidence to indict people both within Hewlett-Packard, as well as contractors on the outside." Dunn, who also recently won the Bay Area Council's Hall of Fame Leadership award (she really did), isn't quite out of the woods just yet -- she will almost certainly get completely throttled when she has to answer questions before a Congressional committee next week.

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