By Suzy Byrne
Wednesday’s hearing was a massive win for the pop star, who has accused her father of conservatorship “abuse.” Her attorney, Mathew Rosengart, argued in court that there was “a mountain of evidence mandating [Jamie’s] suspension.” He said Britney “has been abused by this man for the last decade and since her childhood.” Judge Brenda Penny ruled that a “suspension is in [Britney’s] best interests.”
Jamie’s attorney Vivian L. Thoreen issued a statement on her client’s behalf Thursday, saying he “loves his daughter” and defiantly insisting that he’s always had her “best interests,” despite claims otherwise.
“Mr. Spears loves his daughter Britney unconditionally,” the statement began. “For 13 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. For anyone who has tried to help a family member dealing with mental health issues, they can appreciate the tremendous amount of daily worry and work this required. For Mr. Spears, this also meant biting his tongue and not responding to all the false, speculative, and unsubstantiated attacks on him by certain members of the public, media, or more recently, Britney’s own attorney.”
The statement continued, “These facts make the outcome of yesterday’s hearing all the more disappointing, and frankly, a loss for Britney. 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. 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.”
It ended with, “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.”
Rosengart has not responded to Yahoo Entertainment’s request for comment about Jamie’s statement.
Britney’s conservatorship, put in place in 2008, spawned the #FreeBritney movement — initially fans questioning why she was still under the legal arrangement, reserved for incapacitated individuals, when she was making millions working a grueling schedule. For the last year, Britney, 39, has been fighting to have Jamie removed as conservator.
It took a huge turn over the summer when the superstar addressed the court, claiming in a heartbreaking statement that her father forced her to work, take medication — including birth control — against her will and go to a mental health treatment facility she didn’t want to be in. Her bombshell comments led to her being able to hire her own attorney, Rosengart, for the first time in the last 13 years.
Meanwhile, a spotlight was put on the massive amounts of money everyone involved in the conservatorship has been making off the star. Jamie, just one player in it, was getting $16,000 a month, plus $2,000 for office space, plus a percentage of earnings on business deals he made for his daughter as conservator of the estate.
In addition, over the last year, he’s spent $1.3 million dollars of Britney’s money to fight his removal as conservator. His statement says he’s been “biting his tongue and not responding to all the false, speculative, and unsubstantiated attacks on him,” yet $531,065 of that was spent on “media matters” —his legal team, including a crisis PR expert, defending him in the press.
Also, while Jamie’s statement plays up the fact that he “took the initiative to file the petition to terminate the conservatorship” — while “Britney’s own attorney argued against it” — however, a legal expert we consulted previously explained the reasoning for that.
“Jamie wants the conservatorship to terminate so that all of the communications that he’s had with the attorneys for the conservatorship would remain privileged,” Christopher C. Melcher of Walzer Melcher told Yahoo Entertainment this week. “If he is replaced” — which he now has been — “and a new person is installed as a temporary conservator, that person then holds this privilege and would have the right to demand — and would get — all of the files for the last 13 years between Jamie and the attorneys that Jamie probably thought would never see the light of day. And those attorneys probably thought would always be kept secret but now could be revealed.”
Melcher says it’s “potentially a gold mine of evidence,” including a paper trail of Britney’s complaints about the conservatorship and requests to end it, spanning back years. Plus, potentially communications about the surveillance on Britney. The New York Times recently reported that the star’s communication was secretly monitored and audio recordings were captured in her bedroom, including conversations with her boyfriend, two sons and lawyer. That surveillance was a hot topic in court on Wednesday.
“It would be damning evidence for everybody involved,” Melcher predicted.
On Wednesday, Judge Penny ordered control of all of Britney’s assets to be turned over to a temporary conservator – a certified public accountant named John Zabel. That puts into motion all the privileged communication being turned over from Jamie’s legal team.
As for Jamie’s statement saying Rosengart was against terminating the conservatorship, that’s just not true. Rosengart said in past filings that his number one goal was to remove Jamie — and then he would work to end the conservatorship. He even set a time frame for it concluding: this fall.
The next hearing in the conservatorship is set for Nov. 12 and should see the judge rule on whether or not the conservatorship is dissolved completely.
Meanwhile, Britney is on vacation with boyfriend Sam Asghari.
“Of course she’s happy with the result of the hearing,” a Britney insider told People magazine.