Britney Spears. (James Devaney/WireImage)
Britney Spears reportedly dialled 911 to “report herself as a victim of conservatorship abuse”, according to an explosive The New Yorker investigation.
In the latest dizzying twist in the saga of Britney’s conservatorship, the 39-year-old singer is understood to have phoned the police the day before her bombshell court testimony.
Since 2008 following a mental health crisis, Britney has lived under a complex legal arrangement that has seen her personal and financial affairs controlled largely by her father, Jamie Spears.
Living under this “abusive” arrangement for more than a decade, however, has left the artist feeling “traumatised” she told a Californian court probate judge.
But the day before her testimony which shuddered alarm through her fanbase, Spears rang up the authorities to report herself as a victim of “conservatorship abuse”, according to a source close to Britney and law enforcement.
She allegedly phoned the police in Ventura County on 22 June – calls to the emergency services in the state are usually publicly available, but the force has since sealed the records shut pending investigation.
Sources added that Britney’s management team began texting one another shortly after the call, “worried what Spears might say the next day and discussed how to prepare in the event that she went rogue”.
Britney Spears’ conservatorship arranged in just ’10 minutes’
What Britney Spears did say on 23 June left an already-concerned world deeply rankled. “I’ve told the world I’m happy and OK,” she told the court via telephone.
“I lied. I am not happy. I can’t sleep. I’m so angry it’s insane and I’m depressed. I’ve been in denial, I’ve been in shock. I am traumatised.”
Among her litany of claims – and there were many – she alleged that her decision-makers refused to let her take out her birth control device and even sent her to a rehabilitation programme as “punishment” for speaking out.
She compared the arrangement to “sex trafficking” and herself at one point to a “slave”.
A former friend of Spears’ who was present in the court during the conservatorship’s creation, Jacqueline Butcher, told The New Yorker that the conservatorship was created in “maybe 10 minutes” – and she allegedly wasn’t even told about it in advance.
“At the time, I thought we were helping,” she said. “And I wasn’t, and I helped a corrupt family seize all this control.”
She continued: “No one testified. No questions were asked. A conservatorship was granted without ever talking to her.
“A conservatorship was granted without ever talking to her. And whatever they claim behind the scenes, how could you have assessed her then?”
Her claim was disputed by the since-retired judge for the case, Reva Goetz, who approved the conservatorship.
Goetz stressed that there were “lengthy confidential discussions addressing Spears’s health and that it was incorrect to say that Spears was not meaningfully assessed or given opportunities for input”.
Under California law, conservatees must be given at least five days’ notice before the binding arrangement takes effect – Goetz, the outlet said, bypassed this, wary Britney would suffer “immediate and substantial harm” if informed.
“She never had a chance,” Butcher said.