The most enthusiastic representatives of the #FreeBritney movement gathered right along with the media for a jubilant press conference celebrating a judge’s ruling on Wednesday suspending the pop star’s father as conservator after more than a decade.
“It’s a great day for justice,” Britney Spears’s attorney Mathew S. Rosengart told cheering crowds on Wednesday, after a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ended her father’s 13-year tight control over his daughter’s life and career.
But father Jamie Spears framed the development differently in a statement through his lawyer Vivian L. Thoreen on Thursday, calling the ruling “frankly, a loss for Britney.”
“Mr. Spears loves his daughter Britney unconditionally,” Thoreen, an attorney with the firm Holland & Knight LLP, wrote in a statement. “For thirteen years, he has tried to do what is in her best interests, whether as a conservator or her father. This started with agreeing to serve as her conservator when she voluntarily entered into the conservatorship. This included helping her revive her career and re-establish a relationship with her children.”
“The Current Situation Is Untenable”
Bashing what he described as the “false, speculative, and unsubstantiated attacks on him,” the father called the outcome of Wednesday’s hearing “disappointing” and “wrong.”
“Respectfully, the court was wrong to suspend Mr. Spears, put a stranger in his place to manage Britney’s estate, and extend the very conservatorship that Britney begged the court to terminate earlier this summer,” Thoreen’s statement continued. “Again, it was Mr. Spears who took the initiative to file the petition to terminate the conservatorship when neither Britney’s former court-appointed counsel nor her new privately-retained attorney would do so. It was Mr. Spears who asked the court at yesterday’s hearing to immediately terminate the conservatorship while Britney’s own attorney argued against it.”
For Judge Brenda J. Penny, the status quo that previously existed had grown “untenable” and “toxic.”
“I believe that the suspension is in the best interests of the conservatee,” Penny said in court, according to Variety. “The current situation is untenable.”
“It reflects a toxic environment which requires the suspension of James Spears,” the judge reportedly added.
“Toxic,” in fact, was the very word the Senate Judiciary Committee used in a hearing on Tuesday scheduled to investigate and the U.S. system of conservatorships. Lawmakers used to the Spears saga as the most spectacular and well-publicized example — but hardly the only one — of what was described as the system’s disarray.
Jamie Spears insisted that he always had his daughter’s well-being at heart.
“Despite the suspension, Mr. Spears will continue to look out for the best interests of his daughter and work in good faith towards a positive resolution of all matters,” his attorney concluded.
“More Serious Ramifications for His Misconduct”
Thoughout his prepared statement, Britney Spears’s lawyer referred to a bombshell Sept. 24 article published by the New York Times, titled “The Surveillance Apparatus That Surrounded Britney Spears.” The paper reported that the father hired a security firm that monitored her communications and secretly captured audio recordings from her bedroom.
Sourcing the claim to the firm’s former employee, the Times reported that emails, text messages and audio recordings corroborated his tale — told for the first time for the paper’s documentary “Controlling Britney Spears.”
“Jamie Spears and others are going to face even more serious ramifications,” declared Rosengart, who was interrupted by wild applause at the line before he could finish his sentence with three more words.
“For his misconduct,” the lawyer added.
A former federal prosecutor, Rosengart framed the Times revelations as the pop equivalent of Watergate.
“It’s a cliche but one question we’re going to be asking in regard to Mr. Spears’s representatives—not just lawyers—[is] ‘What did they know, and when did they know it?” Rosengart asked, paraphrasing the late Republican Senator Howard Baker’s words regarding Richard Nixon’s knowledge of the break-in.
After invoking that historic antecedent, Rosengart said that investigating the surveillance would be a matter for law enforcement.
“That’s something that it is for law enforcement, and not myself to make the ultimate conclusion on—but my firm will be looking into it,” he added.
Illustrating the global reach of the #FreeBritney movement—which Rosengart praised as “instrumental”—supporters also rallied in London on Wednesday, the same day a court nearly 5,500 miles away heard arguments over the cause for which they were demonstrating.
(Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)
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