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Britney Spears' father loses bid to retain control of delegating her investments

The joint conservatorship powers were debated in court Thursday amid intensified scrutiny over James Spears' control of his daughter's estate.
Image: Britney Spears Announces New Las Vegas Residency At Park Theater
Britney Spears attends the announcement of her new residency, "Britney: Domination," at Park MGM on Oct. 18, 2018, in Las Vegas.Gabe Ginsberg / FilmMagic

Britney Spears’ battle to remove her father’s conservatorship over her estate continued Thursday as a judge denied her father's objections to how her conservatorship will be delegated.

Britney Spears filed a petition with the court last year to remove her father and to place a financial institution as the sole conservator over her estate. Her attorney, Samuel D. Ingham III, argued last year that the singer was afraid of James "Jamie" Spears and would rather a professional financial institution take over her estate.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny denied the singer’s petition last year but appointed Bessemer Trust as a co-conservator along with James Spears.

Objections raised by James Spears' attorney, Vivian Thoreen, on how the co-conservatorship would be delegated were rejected Thursday. One objection raised by Thoreen asked that James Spears have the power to delegate investment powers, an issue that was a point of debate between the two attorneys Thursday.

Ingham told the court that the nature of a co-conservatorship is that James Spears' powers as sole conservator, appointed by the court in 2019, would be reduced. Thoreen argued that the court orders should be consistent with the 2019 order that gave him sole conservatorship.

"There's no intent or desire to create unequal power or decision-making as between the two, your honor," Thoreen argued. "This is a way to make it consistent and to not take away powers that Mr. Spears as a conservator had."

Thoreen also denied a concern raised by Ingham that James Spears would delegate the investment powers to a third party, stating that her client simply wanted "to be able to delegate the investment decision making authority to Bessemer."

The objection was denied by the judge. Both James Spears and Bessemer Trust are expected to work together on a budget and investment proposal for Britney Spears' estate following Thursday's hearing.

“My client looks forward to working with Bessemer to continue an investment strategy in the best interests of his daughter," Thoreen said in a statement after the hearing.

"My client Jamie Spears has diligently and professionally carried out his duties as one of Britney’s conservators, and his love for his daughter and dedication to protecting her is clearly apparent to the court," the statement said.

Another hearing on the conservatorship is scheduled to take place next month.

The pop star’s legal struggle is under new scrutiny following the New York Times’ release of “Framing Britney,” a documentary that followed Britney Spears’ rise to stardom and the media pressure that’s often blamed for her public breakdown in 2007.

James Spears has been her legal conservator for 12 years.

Fans of the singer launched a #FreeBritney movement amid the legal battle, alleging that James Spears has abused what was meant to be a temporary conservatorship. “Framing Britney,” released last week on Hulu, interviewed a number of the activists behind the movement, as well as Britney Spears’ former assistant.

Junior Olivas, a fan who credited Britney Spears’ for helping him through difficult times, was among the #FreeBritney protesters who demonstrated in front of the Los Angeles courthouse while her case was being heard.

“My heart said, ‘No matter what, you’re taking your butt there, and you’re going to help her just the way she helped you,'” Olivas said in the documentary.

A number of celebrities have posted support for Britney Spears following the release of the documentary, including Bette Midler and actress Sarah Jessica Parker.

James Spears defended his conservatorship to Page Six last year, telling the tabloid that he loved his daughter.

“All these conspiracy theorists don’t know anything,” James Spears said. “The world don’t have a clue. It’s up to the court of California to decide what’s best for my daughter. It’s no one else’s business.”

Sam Asghari, who has been dating Britney Spears since 2016, criticized his girlfriend’s father in an Instagram Story on Wednesday and said he had “zero respect” for the man.

“In my opinion, Jamie is a total d---,” Asghari said. “I won't be going into details because I've always respected our privacy but at the same time, I didn't come to this country to not be able to express my opinion and freedom."