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Newly obtained court documents reveal that pop icon Britney Spears has been quietly fighting her conservatorship in court for years, calling it a tool to control and oppress her.
Spears, who will turn 40 in December, has been under a legal conservatorship since 2008.
The conservatorship, largely maintained by her father Jamie Spears, was instituted in court not long after Spears endured what appeared to be a very public mental health crisis. Under it, Jamie Spears plays a key role in Britney's finances, business dealings and other legal matters.
Conservatorships are typically employed for people who are deemed unable to make key decisions for themselves, yet the fact that Britney has never really stopped working, including spearheading an enormously successful multi-year Las Vegas residency, has fans crying foul at the constraints she's been placed under. That's led to the "#FreeBritney" movement, a movement that has become increasingly critical of Jamie Spears' role in his daughter's life.
While the movement began in 2009, it really picked up speed in 2019 when her tone on Instagram seemingly changed, Vanity Fair reported in 2019. The perceived change led some of her fans to believe that handlers had taken control of her social media. Later, many of those fans believed that Britney was trying to express that she wanted out of her conservatorship through coded language on her Instagram, US Magazine reported in 2021.
Court records, newly obtained by the New York Times, reveal that Britney has been expressing her disdain of the conservatorship for much longer than the #FreeBritney movement realized, as early as 2014, according to the Times.
In a 2016 report obtained by the publication, a court investigator wrote that Britney “articulated she feels the conservatorship has become an oppressive and controlling tool against her." Britney told the investigator that she was “very angry” about being under such control. She said she was administered drug test on a weekly basis and that she wasn't allowed to even hold her own credit card.
Furthermore, she expressed that she wasn’t even allowed to make changes to her own home. She wanted to redo her kitchen cabinets, for example, but her father forbade her from doing so, claiming it was an exuberant amount of money. Spears is reportedly worth more than $60 million dollars.
Spears read a statement in 2019 during a closed-door hearing, in which she said she felt forced into a mental health facility against her will on exaggerated grounds as punishment for standing up for herself during a rehearsal, according to the New York Times. During that statement, she also claimed that she was forced to perform while sick with a 104-degree fever. She classified that performance as one of the scariest moments of her life.
At a public court hearing in November 2020, Britney's mother Lynne Spears claimed that Jamie had referred to his daughter as “a racehorse who has to be handled like one.”
While the conservatorship was granted following rumors of Britney using drugs, being taken advantage by friends and struggling with her mental health, the newly obtained documents show that her father is accused of being unfit to manage her affairs. In addition to being accused of taking advantage of his daughter for profit, he is also alleged to have been physically and emotionally abusive. Lynne had recalled years of “verbal abuse, abandonment” and “erratic behavior" by Jamie in her 2008 memoir, “Through The Storm,” which also divulged personal secrets about Britney's past.
Furthermore, Jamie — who went to rehab for alcoholism just three years prior to Spears’ perceived public breakdown — is accused of abusing alcohol.
Confidential records, obtained by the New York Times, show that a former nanny and housekeeper for Britney claimed in 2010 that her father engaged in “verbal abuse, tirades, inappropriate behavior and alcoholic relapses” during Britney’s first tour post-conservatorship.
In 2014, Britney’s attorney Samuel D. Ingham III told the court that Britney believed her father was drinking; she requested he undergo intoxication testing.
“Absolutely inappropriate,” the judge replied. “And who is she to be demanding that of anybody?”
Jamie is currently living in an RV parked at a warehouse at Britney’s hometown in Louisiana and has been seen visiting the VFW bar, according to the New York Times.
Ingham filed a motion to officially remove Jamie Spears as conservator in August. Jamie Spears’ attorney Vivian Thoreen told CNN earlier this year that her client “would love nothing more than to see Britney not need a conservatorship. Whether or not there is an end to the conservatorship really depends on Britney. If she wants to end her conservatorship, she can file a petition to end it."
However, in “Framing Britney,” a 2020 New York Times documentary, Thoreen acknowledged that she has never been involved in a case in which the subject of a conservatorship has successfully terminated one.
“My client has informed me that she is afraid of her father,” Ingham told a judge last November, the Associated Press reported. In February, the judge granted a third party financial institution, Bessemer Trust, an equal share of control over her finances as Jamie Spears.
Ingham has told Oxygen.com that he cannot comment on the issues, citing pending litigation. Thoreen has not immediately replied to Oxygen.com's request for comment. Representatives for Jamie have declined to comment to the New York Times, also citing pending litigation.
Britney is expected to speak at a hearing about the status of her conservatorship on Wednesday.
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