HP pays $14.5m to end ‘spy’ probe

Hewlett-Packard (HP) has agreed to pay $14.5m (£7.4m) to settle a civil lawsuit over its much-criticised investigation into a boardroom leak

British Gas complaints ‘double’

British Gas is not only the UK’s most expensive energy provider, it also provides the worst customer service – according to research from Energywatch.

The consumer watchdog said complaints about British Gas in the six months to September were twice last year’s total, while complaints about its rivals fell.

The top problems were inaccurate bills and the lack of response to enquiries

Wal-Mart must pay workers $78m

The world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, has been ordered to pay at least $78m (£42m) in compensation to workers who were forced to work during breaks.

A jury in a Pennsylvania court decided that Wal-Mart broke a state law by refusing to pay staff for the extra work they did.

The class action was brought by about 187,000 staff who worked for Wal-Mart between March 1997 and May 2006

Hewlett faces US attorney probe

California’s attorney general is investigating methods used by Hewlett Packard to oversee the activities of certain directors after a media leak.

In a bid to discover which employee had leaked “confidential” reports to the press, HP hired undercover consultants.

The firm’s counsel said HP’s methods were “not generally unlawful” but could not say if the techniques used by outside agents complied with the law

Abta ‘reduces’ travel protection

The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) is reducing the protection for customers offered by its code of conduct for travel agents.

From 1 September, compensation will no longer be paid to people who have lost money to a dishonest travel agent.

Abta says this sort of thing normally happens only once a year

Apple admits excessive iPod hours

Apple Computer has said a report of labour conditions at its iPod plant in China found workers did more than 60 hours a week a third of the time.

Staff making the world’s most popular MP3 player also worked more than six consecutive days 25% of the time.

Apple said the hours were “excessive” and said its supplier would now be enforcing a “normal” 60-hour week

Dell sued over ‘false’ ads claims

Dell, the world’s largest computer maker, is facing legal action in China over allegations of false advertising.

The group has been sued over charges its laptops contained a different, cheaper chip than those advertised.

According to state media reports at least 20 lawsuits have been filed against the Texas-based firm

BBC bosses enjoy big payouts as jobs are cut

BBC executives have been awarded significant pay increases, the corporation’s annual report has said.

The revelations come amid job cuts at the corporation, with unions warning that staff could strike as a result.

Director general Mark Thompson’s salary rose to £609,000 in 2005-6, with his deputy Mark Byford receiving £403,000

Firestone in Liberia rubber row

Tyre maker Firestone has been accused of buying rubber from plantations that are illegally occupied by former combatants from Liberia’s civil war.

It is one of three companies that the Liberian government and the United Nations have accused of profiting from the illegal rubber-tapping.

Their report says human rights are being violated at plantations across the West African country

Auditors question validity of financial results

Shares in the in-flight catering and retail firm Alpha Airports have been suspended after its auditors questioned the validity of its financial results.

Alpha asked for a temporary suspension after PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) withdrew its approval of its full-year results published last month.

The firm said it was urgently seeking clarification of PwC’s concerns