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Britney Spears’ father feared for his daughter’s life in 2007

By | Published on Monday 22 October 2012

Britney Spears

Five years ago, Jamie Spears spent every day fearing that he’d turn on the TV to hear his daughter, Britney, was dead, according to a legal rep speaking last week at the opening of a legal battle between the Spears family and the man who claimed to be the pop star’s manager during her mental breakdown in 2007 and 2008.

Sam Lutfi, who became a close friend to Spears in 2007, and subsequently positioned himself as the popstar’s manager and chief gatekeeper, is suing the singer for a cut of her earnings during that period, which he claims he is due because of his management role. The case will also consider Lutfi’s previously reported libel and assault claims against the Spears family. He accuses Britney’s mother of defaming him by holding him responsible for her daughter’s mental breakdown in a book, and Britney’s father of assaulting him during an altercation in 2008.

Recalling that tumultuous period in Britney Spears’ life, which saw the popstar lose custody of her children, spend time confined to a psychiatric ward, and ultimately hand over control of all her financial affairs to her father, a legal rep for the Spears family said on Friday “[During this time Spears Senior] was scared to death, and he’s thinking to himself ‘My daughter has lost everything. Here she is, in a psychiatric ward, out of her head'”.

The Spears family’s legal rep, Leon Gladstone, admitted that Britney’s mental decline had begun sometime before 2007, most likely with her high profile split from pop star boyfriend Justin Timberlake in 2003, though many have accused Lutfi of making matters worse in 2007, by exploiting Spears’ delicate state for personal gain, and cutting off her friends and family members to secure his own position.

Those claims may now be assessed in more detail during the libel element of this case, though most attention on Friday was given to Lutfi’s claim to have been Spears manager during this time, and the resulting 15% cut he is demanding of her earnings over that period.

The Spears family argues that, while Lutfi called himself Spears’ manager, he did not have a legitimate management relationship with the singer. He had no previous experience in artist management, and his professional relationship with Spears was based on one basic contract downloaded off the internet and an oral agreement. They add that Lutfi did nothing to secure deals or revenues while calling himself Spears’ manager, and that the earnings of which he wants 15% all stemmed from deals that pre-dated his involvement in the singer’s career.

But at the start of the court hearing, Lutfi’s attorney, Joe Schleimer, insisted his client did have a valid management contract with the singer, adding that the portrayal of Lutfi by the Spears family is incorrect, and that he had, in fact, tried his best to keep the pop star out of trouble while managing her affairs, even if those efforts had been ultimately unsuccessful.

Spears, who, of course, has staged a commercial comeback since 2008, having seemingly got her personal life back together, is not expected to testify as part of the civil case, though her parents will.