Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison has said HP should not have forced Mark Hurd to quit as chief executive, accusing the company's board of “cowardly corporate political correctness”.

Hurd, CEO at HP for five years and a friend of Ellison, resigned on Friday after an investigation into sexual harassment. He was found not guilty of harassment under HP rules, but the investigation concluded that he had filed inaccurate expense reports and that there were numerous instances where the contractor, an actress, was paid or reimbursed without performing work.

“The HP board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago”, wrote Ellison in an email to the New York Times. “That decision nearly destroyed Apple and would have if Steve hadn’t come back and saved them.”

According to Ellison, the HP board was split 6 to 4 in early discussions about Hurd, but later decided to make the decision unanimous. HP has not confirmed this.

“In losing Mark Hurd, the HP board failed to act in the best interest of HP’s employees, shareholders, customers and partners,” Ellison added. “The HP board admits that it fully investigated the sexual harassment claims against Mark and found them to be utterly false.”

“Publishing known false sexual harassment claims is not good corporate governance; it's cowardly corporate political correctness,” he said.

Jodie Fisher, the actress, yesterday said she was “surprised and saddened” that Hurd had lost his job. She added that she and Hurd first met in 2007 when she interviewed at HP, adding that "Mark and I never had an affair or intimate sexual relationship".