In the long-running saga over Britney Spears’s conservatorship, it was the moment many had been eagerly waiting for.
To recap briefly: Britney has been subject of a legal conservatorship since her public breakdown 13 years ago.
The legal arrangement has meant her father, Jamie Spears, and various other lawyers have had full control of her money, thought to be in the region of $70 million, and her day to day life, including medical and logistical decisions since 2008.
The conservatorship was the main focus of a 75-minute New York Times documentary earlier this year - Framing Britney Spears. The BBC also covered the saga in its documentary The Battle for Britney: Fans, Cash and a Conservatorship.
Fans and campaigners of the so-called #FreeBritney movement have been calling for the star to be freed from her conservatorship for over a decade.
In court, Britney, who has sons Sean, 15, and Jayden, 14, with ex Kevin Federline, made several sensational revelations - including that she is “traumatized” by her conservatorship and “can’t sleep” due to her anger over the situation she finds herself in. She called the legal move “abusive” and said she wanted to “sue” her family over it.
Britney also compared her every day reality to sex trafficking, in that she is forced to work without access to money, phone or passport.
Despite often looking happy and promoting a positive image on her Instagram page, Britney said at times she had been under 24 hour surveillance, wasn’t allowed to have another child, was forced to remain on contraception, and was blocked from marrying her boyfriend, Sam Asghari.
Here’s the main revelations from Britney’s court appearance.
Britney said her happy-go-lucky social media presence was a lie - and she’s actually not ok.
In a moving moment, Britney told the court: “After I’ve lied and told the whole world I’m OK and I’m happy, it’s a lie,” she said. “I thought just maybe I said that enough. Because I’ve been in denial. I’ve been in shock. I am traumatized. You know, fake it till you make it. But now I’m telling you the truth, OK? I’m not happy. I can’t sleep. I’m so angry. It’s insane. And I’m depressed. I cry every day.”
Britney said she needed ‘help’ to escape and she hadn’t ‘done anything’ to deserve the constraints of her conservatorship.
“I need your help,” she said. “It’s not OK to force me to do anything I don’t want to do.”
Britney implied there were regular meetings between her and her team where she was effectively blackmailed into doing what she was told.
“Honestly, I should be able to sue them [her conservators] for threatening me and saying if I don’t go and do these meetings twice a week, ‘We can’t let you have your money and go to Maui on your vacations.’ I don’t want to do that. And I haven’t done anything to deserve this treatment.”
Britney compared her existence to that experienced by people who have been sex trafficked.
In court, Britney said at one point she was forced to pay $60,000 a month to live in a home in Beverly Hills “to do a small rehab program” after she failed a mental health test. She said she was forced to work without access to her money, phone, and passport.
“The only similar thing to this is called sex trafficking,” she said.
During her “small rehab program” she said she was under 24 hour surveillance. She said if she didn’t make a commitment during that time she was blocked from seeing her children or boyfriend.
Britney claimed even her therapist had been influenced
The singer said, when refused to take part in her Vegas residency, her therapist received “a million phone calls” about her behaviour and her medication.
“All this was false — he immediately, the next day, put me on lithium out of nowhere. He took me off my normal meds I’ve been on for five years,” she said.
She said the medication made her feel drunk - adding medical professionals were in her home to monitor her.
“I couldn’t even have a conversation with my mom or dad really about anything,” she said. “There were six different nurses in my home, and they wouldn’t let me get in my car to go anywhere for a month.”
Britney said her conservatorship has implications on her love life
The singer said she’d wanted to have another child, but her conservators had blocked her from booking the doctor’s appointment she needed to remove her IUD “because they don’t want [her] to have any more children.”
Britney also said she would like to marry her boyfriend Asghari - which she claimed was also not allowed.
“So basically this conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good,” she said. “I deserve to have a life. I’ve worked my whole life. I deserve to have a two- to three-year break and just, you know, do what I want to do.”
Britney addressed her family’s involvement
The star said her father, Jamie, “loved the control to hurt his own daughter 100,000%” in relation to the conservatorship.
“Ma’am, my dad and anyone involved in this conservatorship and my management who played a key role in punishing me — ma’am, they should be in jail,” she said.
She also said: “I would honestly like to sue my family, to be totally honest with you. I also would like to be able to share my story with the world, and what they did to me, instead of it being a hush-hush secret to benefit all of them. I want to be able to be heard on what they did to me by making me keep this in for so long. ... I’ve been so angry and I cry every day. It concerns me. I’m told I’m not allowed to expose the people who did this to me.”
Her father’s attorney later gave a statement saying he is “sorry to see his daughter suffering and in so much pain.”
Britney said the conservatorship was ‘abusive’
“It makes no sense,” she said. “The laws need to change. All I want is to own my money and for this to end and for my boyfriend to be able to drive me in his f***ing car.
“I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive, and that we can sit here all day and say, ‘Oh, conservatorships are here to help people.’ But, ma’am, there’s a thousand conservatorships that are abusive as well.”