The virtual courtroom was eventually closed after a handful of people refused to leave the call, meaning the singer will remain a conservatee for the foreseeable future
In January 2008, Britney Spears’ father was given complete control of the singer’s assets after she was admitted to psychiatric hospital for five days. Despite the conservatorship being scheduled to end in 2009, it’s still ongoing today, with many fans criticising it as an abuse of power and violation of human rights.
This week, Spears was set to have her quarterly meeting with a judge to discuss the conservatorship, due to happen over Zoom. Instead of going as planned, the call was crashed by a handful of people, leading to the judge postponing the hearing, ultimately keeping Spears as a conservatee for the foreseeable future.
As reported by TMZ, the people not involved with the hearing refused to get off the call, then rejoined again after the judge closed the virtual courtroom for the first time. After two hours, the judge conceded and cancelled the meeting completely.
It’s currently unknown who the people were or what they did or said on the call, but speculation has arisen that it was #FreeBritney campaigners. The hashtag refers to a long-running movement organised by fans who, according to Rolling Stone, are “collectively concerned about the state of her long-running conservatorship”.
#FreeBritney activists did show up to the IRL courthouse (where she was appearing via Zoom) to protest the singer’s conservatorship, though. Around 50 fans gathered in downtown Los Angeles, holding signs that read, ‘See us, see her. Free Britney’ and detailed the singer’s conservatorship timeline.
Yesterday (July 23), Spears’ brother, Bryan Spears, spoke out about the superstar’s conservatorship in a rare interview for the As NOT Seen on TV Podcast. “She’s been in this thing for quite some time now,” Bryan said. “Obviously there was a need for it in the beginning. Now they’ve made some changes and all we can do is hope for the best.”
Bryan addressed that some fans believe Spears is being “held against her will in some capacity”, but asserted that the conservatorship has been “a great thing” for their family. “We kind of came together and not everybody agreed with it either; everyone had their own opinion, but at the end I think we made the right choice.”
He praised his father Jamie, who was in control of Spears’ personal affairs – including her finances, mental health, and music career – until September 2019, as having “done the best he could, given the situation he was put in”. He added: “One person might be on stage and doing this, but it’s a sacrifice from everybody. Everyone is putting in, to some degree, a little bit to keep everything going.”
However, Bryan did admit that Spears has “always wanted to get out of” the conservatorship, explaining that “it’s very frustrating to have”. He also suggested the singer would struggle without the conservatorship. “Let’s say it does get let go and she’s on her own – everyday task stuff (will be) a great challenge. Like driving. She’s the worst driver in the world. Bless her heart, she really is not a good driver and she hasn’t had to do that.”
The #FreeBritney movement has been gaining traction in recent weeks, with a petition to get Spears the right to her own lawyer amassing over 230,000 signatures. Fans are concerned about Spears’ freedom and wellbeing, as under the conservatorship, the singer’s guardians are able to restrict her visitors and communicate with doctors about her treatment.
In March 2019, Spears’ attorney, Andrew Wallet, resigned from his role as co-conserator, declaring at the time: “Substantial detriment, irreparable harm, and immediate danger will result to the conservatee and her estate if the relief requested is not granted.”
Spears’ personal affairs are now controlled by the artist’s ‘care manager’, Jodi Montgomery, who will remain as her guardian until the conservatorship is up for extension in August.