Following her second court appearance in less than a month, in which singer Britney Spears again stated that she wanted her father to be charged for alleged conservatorship 'abuse', Britney has used the hashtag 'Free Britney' on social media for the first time. During the hearing, as well as stating her case once more to the judge, Britney was also that she'd be able to appoint her own legal team, rather than continuing on with attorney Samuel Ingham, who had been assigned to her through the courts.
Back in June, when delivering her heartfelt testimony asking for an end to the complex legal contract (and which saw Britney accuse her co-conservators of preventing her from having her IUD removed), the singer criticised Ingham for not doing enough to help her.
The Free Britney movement was created by concerned fans several years ago and lobbies for her conservatorship to end. The conservatorship sees Britney's father, James Spears, have control of her finances and schedule. Speaking remotely, Britney told the court during this most recent appearance, "I'm here to press charges. I'm angry and I will go there. You're allowing my dad to ruin my life. I have to get rid of my dad and charge him with conservatorship abuse."
She added that she would no longer willingly partake in any further 'stupid' and time-consuming psychiatric assessments but that she would be happy for co-conservator, Jodi Montgomery, to remain in place. Britney also said she'd been prevented from drinking coffee and taking hair vitamins through the conservatorship, which she described as 'cruelty', and expressed she was afraid of her father.
In her Instagram post following the court date, Britney can be seen cartwheeling and horse riding, and the caption reads [in reference to her being granted permission to appoint her own legal team]: "Coming along, folks ... coming along 🖕🏻!!!!! New with real representation today ... I feel GRATITUDE and BLESSED !!!! Thank you to my fans who are supporting me ... You have no idea what it means to me be supported by such awesome fans !!!! God bless you all !!!!! Pssss this is me celebrating by horseback riding and doing cartwheels today 🤸♂️🤷♀️🐎 !!!! #FreeBritney."
Britney's boyfriend, actor Sam Asghari, who earlier this month posted a selfie to his Instagram Stories wearing a Free Britney t-shirt, also commented on Britney's new post using the movement's hashtag, "Internet is about to explode #freebritney."
It's reported by the BBC that Britney will now be represented by former federal prosecutor Mathew Rosengart, who has previously worked with the likes of Stephen Spielberg and Sean Penn, the latter of whom described Rosengart as a "tough as nails streetfighter with a big brain and bigger principles".
A recap of the whole 'Free Britney' movement
How did Free Britney start?
Free Britney started when fans of the legendary Britney Spears became increasingly concerned about her legal guardianship contract, which sees her father Jamie Spears have control of her finances and personal affairs. The movement (and subsequent popular hashtag on social media) was initially started by a podcast called Britney's Gram and a blog by Anthony Elia, which has since been shut down by Britney's team.
Jamie Spears' legal team allegedly wrote in documentation when attempting to sue Anthony for defamation: "It's time for the conspiracy theories about Britney Spears' well-being and the mob #FreeBritney movement to stop... Over the past few months, Britney and her father Jamie have sat by while fans have accused them of numerous false and malicious things, including attempts to mislead the public with the content that appears on her social media."
How is Britney's financial freedom restricted?
A financial trust, known as the SJB Revocable Trust, was set up in 2004 by Britney in order to protect her money and assets, plus protect her children's, Sean and Jayden, inheritance (Britney reportedly has about 30% of the shared custody of them, the rest of the time the boys spend with their father, Kevin Federline).
However, her name was reportedly removed as a trustee when she was placed under conservatorship in 2008, after she publicly experienced a mental health breakdown, and the court appointed "temporary successors of the trust".
The arrangement saw the singer relinquish all legal control over her estate, financial and personal assets. Instead those rights have been granted to her father and legal team. Typically, a contract such as this is reserved for severely mentally incapacitated people, but fans are arguing that since 2008 she has been on world tours, completed a Vegas residency and released new music, therefore proving she's capable of living an independent life once more.
In October 2018, Britney announced a second Vegas residency, but it was later cancelled – she said due to her father’s sudden poor health. It was later reported that Britney had also checked into a mental health facility.
Supporters of the #FreeBritney movement are adamant that Britney has been manipulated, is being controlled by her father and should have greater autonomy over her own life. However, other sources report that she is already heavily involved in any decision-making and that she is happy with the arrangement.
Documents show that in 2018, the singer spent $400,000 on living expenses, $66,000 on household supplies and $1.1 million on her legal and conservator fees. Her father made $128,000 from his involvement, according to ET. In September 2019, Britney's father was accused (and then cleared) of hitting her eldest son, Sean. The police report was filed by Kevin Federline.
Fans regularly leave comments urging Britney to wear a certain colour in her next video if she needs help, or have written saying their messages of concern have been deleted from underneath her social media posts. Others praise her for being a source of positivity on social media and say they love watching her dancing videos, seeing her pictures of new outfits or flowers.
How are the rest of Britney's family involved in the Free Britney movement?
In July 2020, Britney's mother, Lynne, reportedly filed legal documents asking to receive special notice on "all matters" pertaining to Britney’s income and assets, making it clear that she too wants a say in how the star's $59m fortune is used and protected. Vanity Fair noted that she liked comments from fans suggesting the conservatorship is an infringement on Britney's rights.
Then, a month later, it was reported that Britney asked a Californian court to put a stop to her father's, Jamie Spears, role as her legal guardian (which sees him have control over all her finances, schedule and more), and have those responsibilities handed over to an outside, professional source on a full-time basis.
At the time, Jamie had stepped back from his role due to health issues and the reigns were handed over to Jodi Montgomery, who is part of the private firm, Pais Montgomery Fiduciary, who, it was reported, the singer wished to have permanent control of her conservatorship. Britney’s lawyer Samuel D Ingham III said she is "strongly opposed" to her father resuming his position as head of her affairs.
Britney's younger sister, Jamie Lynn Spears, (who has been vocal about defending her sibling's health issues on social media) then appeared to be taking a more active role in managing the pop icon's finances. The LA Times reported that in a court filing, Jamie Lynn was named as trustee of the estate set up to protect Britney's children financially in the event of her death, and is requesting that all of those assets be consolidated into accounts wherein she is the custodian.
Fans of the 'Free Britney' movement took this as a good sign, that another family member (perhaps who is closer to Britney than her father) wants to step in. A hearing to discuss the conservatorship was postponed, after fans kept hacking into the private Zoom link, and a court ruled that it was to be extended until "the conclusion of the pandemic".
What is known about Britney's mental state?
In truth, nothing is clearcut and it's unfair to speculate. However, a video that Britney uploaded to Instagram last spring saw her tell fans that her gym had burned down after she'd left candles unattended, she has also posted similarly erratic content online (including a video showing her snapping her ankle while dancing). Many posted concerned comments saying they're worried about her mental state – with some suggesting Britney's her issues are caused by the conservatorship and lack of freedom she holds, whereas others took her video as evidence that the conservatorship should remain in place.
Towards the end of last year, Britney Spears' lawyer, Samuel D Ingham III, described her mental state as "comatose". According to a report from TMZ, Ingham told a court judge that the Toxic hitmaker doesn't want to perform again, but that her father is intent on her career continuing.
It's believed that when the judge asked Ingham if Britney would be willing to sign a declaration of her feelings, Ingham said his client lacked the capacity to make such a declaration, likening her to a comatose patient. Ingham, it's reported, was not saying Britney is comatose, but he used the expression as a way of demonstrating her inability to sign a legal document. He added that even comatose patients are able to have their lawyers speak on their behalf.
We hope that whatever the situation behind closed doors really is, that Britney is well, safe and happy.
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