Britney Spears’ father was removed from his controversial role as his daughter’s guardian on Wednesday 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. A hearing to fully terminate the guardianship is expected before the end of the year.
“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 controversial legal arrangement that the 39-year-old US singer has slammed as “abusive” and that her lawyers had demanded be scrapped.
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 that contained allegations Jamie Spears had bugged his daughter’s phone calls.
Dozens of supporters had gathered outside a Los Angeles 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.
The ruling came after Spears’ lawyer Mathew Rosengart filed a motion to have her father removed.
“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,” the petition says.
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.
Yet 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.
– ‘Never fit to serve’ –
In their own petition, Spears’ lawyers accused her father 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.
“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.
Meanwhile, Jamie Spears has objected to his daughter’s choice of a new temporary conservator to replace him, saying that certified public accountant John Zabel lacks the necessary experience, US media reported Monday.
In turn, Spears’ lawyers say 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.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)