The attorney for Britney Spears' father, Jamie Spears, is defending his conservatorship over the pop star in the aftermath of a documentary that detailed the family’s legal battle to control the singer’s estate.
“Britney being safe and not being taken advantage of is his number one priority,” Vivian Thoreen, attorney for Jamie Spears, told NBC News on Tuesday.
Britney Spears has been under a legal conservatorship for 12 years, meaning the singer has essentially had a court-appointed guardian following a public breakdown in 2007. Last year, she petitioned to have her father removed from her conservatorship with her attorney saying Britney Spears was “afraid” of Jamie Spears.
The petition brought renewed attention to the singer's conservatorship, as the court proceedings made national headlines and fueled fan backlash to the family's handling of the estate. Criticism of the conservatorship — and specifically of Jamie Spears as sole conservator — escalated following the release last month of the New York Times documentary, "Framing Britney Spears."
Thoreen defended her client’s role in his daughter’s life and argued in multiple interviews over the past week that the outside concern is misplaced.
"I understand that every story wants to have a villain, but people have it so wrong here," Thoreen told ABC’s “Good Morning America” last week. "This is a story about a fiercely loyal, loving, and dedicated father who rescued his daughter from a life-threatening situation. People were harming her and they were exploiting her."
Thoreen also told CNN that Jamie Spears “would love nothing more than to see Britney not need a conservatorship” but that the decision ultimately laid with the singer herself.
“Like any parent, he doesn't always see eye-to-eye on what Britney may want,” Thoreen said. “But Jamie believes every single decision he has made has been in her best interest.”
In her statement to NBC News on Tuesday, Thoreen added that if Britney Spears "wants to end her conservatorship, she can file a petition to end it for the court to consider, but in 13 years she never has.”
Jamie Spears was appointed his daughter’s sole conservator in 2019 following the resignation of his former co-conservator Andrew Wallet. Britney Spears’ attorney, Samuel D. Ingham III, argued last year that the singer was afraid of her father 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 financial firm Bessemer Trust as a co-conservator along with James Spears. Penny also confirmed the ruling last month in a hearing where she ordered both Bessemer Trust and Jamie Spears to work together in order to create a budget plan for the singer.
Ingham reiterated to the court last month that it was “no secret” that Britney Spears did not want her father as her conservator.
The family’s public legal struggle drew interest from Britney Spears’ fans, who began a #FreeBritney movement to remove her from her father’s conservatorship. Fans of the singer have expressed concerns that Jamie Spears has abused what was meant to be a temporary arrangement.
“Framing Britney Spears” — documenting the singer's rise to fame, her struggles under the media spotlight and eventual conservatorship — generated further scrutiny of the legal battle and criticism of Jamie Spears’ role in her life.
Britney Spears has not spoken publicly about “Framing Britney” since its Feb. 5 release on Hulu. She has been active on her social media accounts, posting photos and videos of herself dancing to Instagram.
She wrote in an Instagram caption on Monday that she was devoting her year to healing, telling fans to be kind following a year of “craziness” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m working on allowing myself to not be so strong all the time and to know it’s ok to cry !!!!” She wrote. “I pray for deep healing this year for all of us and I hope we can all inspire each other !!!!”
Her attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Sam Asghari, who has been dating Britney Spears since 2016, criticized his girlfriend’s father in an Instagram Story last month 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."