A US court has rejected an attempt by pop star Britney Spears to have her father removed as conservator of her estate.
Spears’ attorney, Samuel D Ingham III told the Los Angeles superior court that the star is afraid of her father and will not resume her career so long as he has power over it.
Judge Brenda Penny declined to suspend James Spears from his central role in the court conservatorship that has controlled his daughter’s life and career for 12 years. But she said she would consider future petitions for his suspension or outright removal, which Ingham plans to file.
“My client has informed me that she is afraid of her father,” Ingham told the judge. “She will not perform again if her father is in charge of her career.”
The pop star has been on an indefinite work hiatus since early 2019.
Her father’s attorney, Vivian Lee Thoreen, defended what she said was his perfect record in his run as his daughter’s conservator, which has seen her net worth go from in debt to well over $60m.
Thoreen argued that the disruption caused by his removal would do her the very harm the suspension is meant to prevent.
The conservatorship, known in many US states as a guardianship, began in 2008 when Spears was struggling with her mental health, often publicly. The arrangements are normally limited to people with severely diminished ability to make decisions for themselves, and are meant to be temporary, but Spears, 38, has remained under court control longer than anyone expected.
The star has acknowledged that the conservatorship was necessary when it began, and probably saved her career, and she remained silent both in public and in court for nearly all of its existence, with her attorney acting mostly as a neutral observer.
But starting in August she began publicly seeking to choose who had power over her, asking for greater transparency in the court’s often secret moves, and even declaring that she was sympathetic to fans who have increasingly demanded in protests and online posts that those in control must #FreeBritney.
The small but vocal group believes the singer is being kept prisoner in her Los Angeles area home and that she is sending cryptic signals – which usually consist of selfies or dancing videos – begging to be freed through her social media accounts.
The fans have been staging protests outside court when hearings have been taking place.