Fans of Britney Spears pushing for the pop singer to be freed from her father’s conservatorship “have it so wrong,” according to Jamie Spears’ lawyer.
Public interest in the pop star’s battle to remove her father as a conservator of her estate began after the hashtag #FreeBritney gained traction on social media and later grew following the release of The New York Times’ documentary “Framing Britney Spears,” which highlighted the rise of Spears’ career, discord over the conservatorship and the singer’s mental health challenges.
“I understand every that story needs a villain, but people have it so wrong here,” Jamie Spears’ lawyer Vivian Thoreen told ABC News Thursday.
Thoreen claims that before Jamie Spears stepped in as conservator of his daughter’s estate, people were “harming” and “exploiting” the singer and her father becoming her conservator in 2008 “saved Britney’s life.”
“Britney’s assets were clearly being mismanaged and she was being taken advantage of financially by those around her,” Thoreen said.
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USA TODAY reached out to Britney Spears’ lawyer and rep for comment.
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A year after the “Baby One More Time” singer suffered a widely publicized mental breakdown, a judge tasked her father with looking after her finances and life decisions. This conservatorship has lasted since the beginning of 2008, lacking independent control over her personal life and her fortune, now estimated at more than $60 million.
She continued to perform as a pop superstar post-conservatorship, with a string of platinum-selling records, a gig as an “X Factor” judge and a reigning queen of Las Vegas residencies.
Jamie Spears temporarily stepped aside as sole conservator in 2019, but still handled her finances while a professional conservator handled her person. The singer hasn’t performed since she postponed her latest Las Vegas residency show, “Domination,” in January 2019 after her father became ill with a ruptured colon.
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Britney Spears’ lawyer Samuel Ingham told a judge in a 2020 court hearing that the singer did not want her father to remain as her guardian, that she feared him and that she would refuse to perform again if he continued to be in control. When asked about Ingham’s statement, Thoreen said Britney Spears never expressed those feelings to her father.
“Throughout 2020, Britney and her father had many conversations,” Thoreen said. “In that time Britney never expressed those words to her father, she’s never asked him to step aside.”
A court ruling established Bessemer Trust Co. to as an equal co-conservator to Jamie Spears in 2019. Jamie Spears objected to the arrangement with Bessemer, arguing that it reduced the power he’s held for years in the case. Los Angeles Superior Court overruled Jamie Spears’ objections in February, one week after the “Framing Britney Spears” documentary was released.
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Contributing: Maria Puente and Devon Link, USA TODAY