Patricia Dunn, who has died of ovarian cancer aged 58, was a former Hewlett-Packard chairwoman who authorised a boardroom surveillance investigation that ultimately sullied her remarkable rise from investment-bank typist. Once one of the most powerful women in corporate America, Dunn saw her career tarnished when she was sacked from HP for approving the company's plan to snoop into the phone records of board members, journalists and employees to catch people leaking to the media. In 2006 she was charged with conspiracy, fraud, identity theft and illegally using computer data; the charges were ultimately dropped.
After working as a part-time reporter for a community newspaper in San Francisco, Dunn (above, AP), began her climb by capitalising on a temporary typist job that she landed at an investment firm in the 1970s. She was on the board at HP, one of the worlds largest technology companies, for nine years. Since the scandal she had spent time on philanthropic matters.
Patricia Dunn, businesswoman: born 27 March 1953; died 5 December 2011.