Britney Spears has pushed for greater transparency in the court hearings regarding the legal arrangement that has managed her life and finances for more than a decade, and in doing so appeared to endorse the #FreeBritney movement.
Since Spears’s breakdown in 2007, her father, Jamie (known legally as James Spears), has primarily been at the helm of a conservatorship that means the 38-year-old must seek permission before making significant decisions related to her affairs, a setup that is usually reserved for elderly and infirm people with little hope of recovery. He is thought to receive around $130k (£97k) annually from Spears’s estate for his role.
After Jamie Spears stepped down in 2019 owing to illness, the role was taken over by an independent professional conservator, Jodi Montgomery. Spears is petitioning for her father to be permanently removed from the role and for wealth management company the Bessemer Trust to be permanently appointed as custodians of her $57.4m (£42.5m) fortune. Spears’s objection to her father’s position aside, she has described the arrangement as “voluntary”.
Jamie Spears has always sought to keep hearings related to his daughter’s affairs sealed, citing the inclusion of private medical information and information about her two children. Yet the star’s lawyer, Samuel Ingham III, has now said Spears is “vehemently opposed to this effort by her father to keep her legal struggle hidden away in the closet as a family secret”.
Ingham said: “At this point in her life when she is trying to regain some measure of personal autonomy, Britney welcomes and appreciates the informed support of her many fans.”
Spears’s lawyer countered Jamie’s ongoing claims that the #FreeBritney movement is helmed by conspiracy theorists. Ingham wrote: “Far from being a conspiracy theory or a ‘joke’ as James reportedly told the media, in large part this scrutiny is a reasonable and even predictable result of James’ aggressive use of the sealing procedure over the years to minimise the amount of meaningful information made available to the public.”
Ingham stated that such a strategy of secrecy may have had “merits” when Spears was trying to restart her career, but that that was no longer the case: Spears announced an “indefinite work hiatus” in January 2019. “The sealing motion is supposedly being brought by her father to ‘protect’ Britney’s interests, but she is adamantly opposed to it,” he wrote.
Ingham argued that when Jamie Spears was appointed conservator, he “surrendered a large measure of privacy as to the manner in which he exercises that power. Transparency is an essential component in order for this court to earn and retain the public’s confidence with respect to protective proceedings like this one. In this case, it is not an exaggeration to say that the whole world is watching.”
The next hearing regarding her conservatorship will be in October.