Oracle's Ellison claims he "has proof" that Apotheker is a spy -

The grand pooh-bah of the Oracle Empire, Larry Ellison, claims he has proof that HP's new CEO, Leo Apotheker was involved in spying on Oracle.

A few weeks ago, Larry claimed that while working for SAP Apotheker had overseen an industrial espionage scheme centring on the theft of massive amounts of Oracle's software.

Apotheker was CEO of SAP at the time. HP's Chairman, Ray Lane, immediately came to Mr. Apotheker's defence by writing a letter stating, "Oracle has been litigating this case for years and has never offered any evidence that Mr. Apotheker was involved."

It seems that Larry is not going to back down on this one. He issued a press release late yesterday, saying that Oracle will produce evidence that Apotheker was involved during the trial that starts next Monday.

Larry said that Lane and the rest of the HP Board of Directors will have to keep their new CEO "far, far away from HP Headquarters until that trial is over".

This is the only way that HP can prevent Oracle cannot subpoenaing him to testify at that trial.

"I don't think Ray Lane wants to risk Leo Apotheker testifying under oath as to why he allowed the theft of Oracle property to continue for eight months after he was made sole CEO of SAP," Larry said. Ray Lane was Ellison's right hand man at Oracle during the 1990s.

" I hope I'm wrong, but my guess is that HP's new Chairman, Mr. Lane, will keep HP's new CEO, Mr. Apotheker, far, far away from the Courthouse until this trial is over," Ellison said.

Much of this spat is to do with HP's sacking of Mark Hurd on moral grounds. The HP board fired Larry's chum because he wined and dined a former soft porn star and then fiddled his expenses.

Ellison's view is that HP was daft for sacking Hurd and then replacing him with a bloke who thought it was ok to nick loads of software.

HP, of course, has denied that Apotheker knew anything. Most of the software theft had taken place in a company that SAP had just bought. SAP has admitted the theft and the trial is really to establish how much it should pay Oracle. The last thing that HP wants is to be drawn into that particular trial.