HP has refused to comment officialy on a report that the Board is dropping its main outside legal counsel, Larry Sonsini.

"HP continues to have a relationship with Wilson Sonsini," a spokeswoman said late yesterday, referring only to the name of the Californian law firm where Sonsini is chairman.

HP to dump lead lawyer over pre-texting spying scandal

The New York Times had reported earlier in the day that HP will replace Sonsini next year due to his close connection with the spying scandal that is has embroiled the technology company. The board hired outside private investigators to find the source of leaks about board deliberations to the media, and it was Sonsini's advice that the use of so-called pre-texting where individuals used false pretenses to obtain personal phone records "was not generally unlawful".

However it has been the pre-texting issue at the heart of the scandal which has already claimed a few scalps, including chairman Patricia Dunn.

Three private investigators, former HP legal counsel Kevin Hunsaker and Dunn have been charged with breaking California laws over their roles in the spying case. They await trial on four felony counts each.

Larry Sonsini was one of several witnesses called to testify on 28 September before a House of Representatives sub-committee. A representative of the law firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, did not return a call seeking comment.

Original reporting by IDG News Service.