SHE was the biggest female pop star in the world but Britney Spears is now being treated like a “toddler who has no rights” by her controlling dad.
The astonishing claim from one of her songwriters is the latest twist in an ongoing scandal engulfing the Hit Me Baby One More Time singer.
Claude Kelly, who worked on her 2008 album Circus, lashed out as a documentary about the superstar’s plight airs in the UK tonight.
Framing Britney Spears examines growing evidence that the former Mickey Mouse Club star was unfairly painted as an unfit mother and incapable of looking after herself.
The controversial move to give her dad Jamie control over her finances, business and personal life — known as a conservatorship — was introduced in February 2008.
It followed a tumultuous year in which she divorced backing dancer Kevin Federline, 42, shaved her head, attacked a paparazzo’s car with an umbrella and entered rehab.
Britney lost custody of sons Sean, 15, and Jayden, 14, in October 2007 and three months later was rushed to hospital and placed on a psychiatric hold.
The documentary is at the centre of the #FreeBritney movement by her fans who say they are fighting to free the star from the shackles of a “conservatorship”.
Claude, who teamed up with Britney shortly after Jamie, 68, took control, told The Sun: “She’s 39 and she’s been doing this a long time, it doesn’t make sense that she’s being handled like a toddler who has no rights.
“The whole thing brings up a bigger issue of human rights and it doesn’t make sense to remove the right for people to live the way they want to live.
“There’s hundreds of other celebrities that have had pretty tough times like public breakdowns, public divorces or embarrassments and they haven’t needed to lose all of their rights.
“If that’s the case then we should all be worried because we are all going to f*** up, fall short and make mistakes.
“God forbid that someone can come in, whether it’s your father or your mother, your husband or your wife or whatever and decide, ‘You no longer have the right to decide how you live your life’.”
Claude is the latest in a long line of acquaintances to defend the star, whose treatment at the hands of her dad and a manipulative media machine is laid bare in excruciating detail in Framing Britney Spears.
The programme, which airs on Sky Documentaries at 9pm tonight, claims that in the years leading up to her breakdown she was the victim of relentless intrusion by paparazzi in Los Angeles and painted as a disaster in the misogynistic pop industry.
The Sun told on Saturday how her ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake made a public apology to Britney last week following the documentary’s release in the US.
The singer, who dated Britney for three years while he was in boyband NSYNC, faced backlash after it highlighted his actions following their break-up in 2002.
Framing Britney Spears features an old radio interview in which Justin bragged about bedding his ex, despite her claiming she would stay celibate until marriage.
It is also touched on his 2002 Cry Me A River video, which alluded to Spears cheating on him, and how this affected her image at the time.
Britney has had a glittering career, selling more than 100million records and amassing a £40million fortune since the release of her 1999 debut album, Baby One More Time.
Under the conservatorship, she has released four albums, performed several tours, been a judge on The X Factor USA and completed a Las Vegas residency.
Those close to Britney insist that if she is well enough to take on such a workload, she should be able to have control of her life.
The singer has spent the past year fighting in court for her father to be removed as conservator, with legal papers saying she is “afraid” of him.
There are claims he has even made business decisions without her knowledge.
On top of that, her former business manager Lou Taylor, will be the subject of a court hearing on March 17 for allegedly charging excessive fees to Britney’s estate.
Britney had asked the courts in August 2019 to have her dad replaced as conservator by “a qualified corporate fiduciary”.
And she had a small victory last Thursday when financial company
Bessemer Trust was appointed co-conservator, meaning Jamie will no longer have full control over her life.
But the #FreeBritney movement has gathered pace and gained the support of stars including Miley Cyrus, Ellie Goulding, Paloma Faith, Cher and Sam Smith.
Last week, Britney’s boyfriend of almost five years, model Sam Asghari, 26, branded Jamie a “dick” and added he has “zero respect for someone trying to control our relationship and constantly throwing obstacles our way”.
Care and protection
On Sunday her cousin and former assistant Alli Sims also came forward to claim Jamie had threatened her in a bid to stop her contacting Britney.
She said: “He 100 per cent was threatening me with my life. I really do believe he would have done something if I didn’t remove myself from the situation.”
In December, Jamie said he had been on good terms with his daughter until August, but admitted they hadn’t spoken since.
Defending his role as her legal guardian, he said: “I love my daughter and I miss her very much. When a family member needs special care and protection, families need to step up, as I have done for the last 12-plus years.
“I have and will continue to provide unwavering love and fierce protection against those with self-serving interests and those who seek to harm her or my family.”
But Britney’s former label boss Kim Kaiman claims in the documentary that it was in fact the singer’s mum Lynne, 65, who helped navigate her early career.
She recalled: “The only thing Jamie ever said to me was, ‘My daughter’s gonna be so rich, she’s gonna buy me a boat’. That’s all I’m gonna say about Jamie.”
Britney has long been opposed to the conservatorship and trial attorney Adam Streisand says in the documentary that she has told him: “I don’t want my father to be my conservator.”
And an unearthed clip shows Britney admitting she has struggled with the legal control.
Speaking in 2008, she said: “If I wasn’t under the restraints I’m under right now, with all the lawyers and doctors and people analysing me every day, I’d feel so liberated and feel like myself.
“When I tell them the way I feel, it’s like they hear but they’re really not listening. But I’m sad.”
Her sister Jamie Lynn, 29, took part in a digital #FreeBritney rally last week, while brother Bryan, 43, said of the conservatorship: “She’s always wanted to get out of it.”
Meanwhile, there is confusion among fans over what is really going on in Britney’s inner circle. They are convinced she is being silenced and believe she is dropping clues as cries for help through her Instagram feed.
There were claims last week that Britney is working on her own documentary about her life, which has sparked a bidding war between channels, while Netflix is making its own special.
That is expected to re-examine the troubling events leading up to the conservatorship, when paparazzi could make £700,000 from a single picture of the star.
Hit songwriter Claude has also worked with Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera and Jessie J over the years but said he was shocked by the intense scrutiny which Britney was subjected to.
Claude recalled: “The studio we worked at has really high fences and they were climbing the fences and cutting holes through the mesh to get shots of her.
“It was literally mayhem. And she was actually very quiet, very shy and kept to herself.
“What I got was that clearly she had been mistreated and taken advantage of enough that she had a huge wall up.
“But what I remember the most is that for someone who had been painted as all over the place, a mess, tragic and sloppy, she was incredibly professional.
“Much like a professional dancer, when it comes to the art, she’s a machine. It’s everything around her that’s insane.”
Britney hasn’t worked since January 2019, when she cancelled a Las Vegas residency shortly after her dad was hospitalised.
She said at the time that she wanted “to focus on family”. Three months later, Britney voluntarily entered a rehab facility.
It has since been claimed Britney is refusing to perform publicly or make music as long as Jamie is one of her conservators.
It is now uncertain whether there will be any new music from Britney, whose last album Glory came out in 2016.
However, Claude says he recorded several demos with her which are among “thousands” of unreleased tracks she made.
He insisted: “Anyone is capable of putting out a great new body of work from her at any time. We’re talking about a mega star.
“She’s not a has-been. She’s a genius at it and you can never, ever, ever count out a brilliant musician like that. She’s always a hit away.”
1992: Joins The Mickey Mouse Club aged 11.
1997: Signs first record deal at 15.
1999: Releases debut album Baby One More Time.
2002: Splits from Justin Timberlake after three years.
2004: Weds childhood friend Jason Alexander in Las Vegas, with marriage annulled 55 hours later. Six months later she marries dancer Kevin Federline.
2005: Gives birth to son Sean Preston, followed by Jayden the following year.
November 2006: Splits from Kevin with divorce granted eight months later.
February 2007: Shaves her head in LA, hours after a day stint in rehab facility.
October 2007: Loses custody of sons to Kevin.
January 2008: Britney refuses to let her sons leave after a visit. She is committed to a psychiatric ward. The court places her under conservatorship.
December 2008: Releases sixth album Circus, followed by Femme Fatale (2011), Britney Jean (2013) and Glory (2016).
2013: Commences four-year Piece Of Me residency in Las Vegas.
January 2019: Announces indefinite work hiatus and cancels Domination, her second Vegas residency.
March 2019: #FreeBritney movement launched after fans claim Britney is being treated unfairly.
August 2019: She requests her father is replaced as conservator.
November 2020: Says she is “afraid” of dad Jamie and won’t work while he remains in charge.
December 2020: Jamie says he hasn’t spoken to his daughter since August.
February 2021: Small victory for Britney as Bessemer Trust appointed co-conservator.
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