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Britney Spears' father removed as her guardian

By Andrew Marszal/AFP Published Sep 30, 2021 10:00 am

Britney Spears' father was removed from his controversial role as his daughter's guardian on Wednesday, Sept. 29, by a Los Angeles judge, ending a long and bitter legal battle by the pop princess.

Jamie Spears was suspended with immediate effect and replaced with a temporary conservator "in the best interests" of the singer, said Judge Brenda Penny, calling the present arrangement "untenable."

"Mr Spears is ordered to turn over all the conservatorship assets," said Penny.

Spears' father has controlled her life for the past 13 years, under a legal arrangement the 39-year-old US singer has slammed as "abusive."

Britney deserves to wake up tomorrow without her father as her conservator.

Wednesday's move came after a years-long campaign that played out in public, and after the emergence in the last week of two new powerful documentaries featuring allegations that Jamie Spears had bugged his daughter's phone calls.

Dozens of supporters had gathered outside the courtroom ahead of the hearing, many carrying colorful signs with slogans such as "Jail Jamie" and the ubiquitous "Free Britney" plea that has been taken up around the world by her supporters on social media.

Spears' lawyer Mathew Rosengart described her father as a "cruel, toxic and abusive man," CNN reported.

"Britney deserves to wake up tomorrow without her father as her conservator," Rosengart said. "It is what my client wants, it is what my client needs, it is what my client deserves."

Britney with her fiancé Sam Asghari

Spears' fiance Sam Asghari reacted to the ruling on Instagram, posting "FREE BRITNEY! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!" along with a photo of what appears to be him handing the singer a rose.

In a motion filed this week, Spears' lawyers said: "Every day that goes by with him as conservator -- every day and every hour -- is one in which he causes his daughter anguish and pain."

'In prison'
Those claims were seemingly bolstered by a New York Times documentary released Friday that alleged Jamie Spears had surveillance devices secretly installed in his daughter's bedroom to record her conversations.

"It really reminded me of somebody that was in prison," a former security firm employee told the Controlling Britney Spears filmmakers.

The pop star's lawyers this week said the Times' allegations about her father showed "horrifying and unconscionable invasions of his adult daughter's privacy."

Jamie Spears denies any illegal surveillance took place.

Another new documentary -- Netflix's Britney vs Spears, released on Tuesday -- claims the singer twice tried to hire her own lawyer in the early years of the conservatorship, but was denied.

In July, Spears was finally successful in appointing her own lawyer -- Rosengart -- and last month, her father filed a petition for the conservatorship to be ended.

The judge appointed accountant John Zabel as a temporary conservator of Spears' estate, in an arrangement she said can last until the end of the year.

Spears' lawyers asked that a hearing to terminate the conservatorship in its entirety be held in 45 days.

'Never fit to serve'
The lawyers had accused Jamie Spears of seeking to delay the end of the guardianship for his own financial benefit.

His efforts are "a subterfuge, designed to avoid the stigma of being suspended and its consequences, including the likelihood of disgorgement and rejection of outstanding legal fees," the petition alleges.

Britney Spears' attorney Mathew Rosengart speaks to the press and #FreeBritney activists after a hearing in which Spears' father, Jamie Spears, was removed by a judge as conservator of her estate at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Sept. 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Kevin Winter/Getty Images/AFP

"Disgorgement" is a legal term meaning the repayment of ill-gotten gains.

Spears' representatives and fans have long accused her father of profiting from the guardianship, which was set up after a highly public 2007 breakdown when the shaven-headed star attacked a paparazzo's car at a gas station.

The lawyers have said her father was "never fit to serve," citing in their petition allegations of his "reported alcoholism" and "trauma he caused his daughter since her childhood."