image copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionIt is the first time Britney has spoken publicly about her conservatorship
Britney Spears told a US judge that she had been drugged, forced to perform against her will and prevented from having children, as she asked the court to end a conservatorship that has governed her life for the last 13 years.
Reading out a prepared statement, the star called the arrangement "abusive" and said she was "traumatised".
"I just want my life back." she said, via phone, in her 23-minute appearance.
It was the first time the star has spoken publicly about the conservatorship, which began in 2008, when concerns over her mental health prompted her father, Jamie Spears, to petition the court for legal authority over his daughter's life.
Mr Spears currently oversees the star's fortune, alongside a professional wealth management firm. A licensed professional conservator temporarily took over Britney's personal care in 2019. She has since opposed her father's return to the role.
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After hearing her remarks on Wednesday, Mr Spears' lawyer issued a statement, saying: "He is sorry to see his daughter suffering and in so much pain. Mr Spears loves his daughter, and he misses her very much."
Britney's court-appointed lawyer, Samuel D Ingham III, also appeared to be taken aback by the star's statement – telling the court he was unaware of its contents before she spoke. He said he would step aside as her representative if asked.
Here are the most notable allegations from Britney's testimony.
The conservatorship has control over her reproductive health
Britney, 39, who has two teenage sons from her marriage to Kevin Federline, said she was being prevented from having more children.
"I want to be able to get married and have a baby," said the star. "I was told right now in the conservatorship I am not able to get married and have a baby."
The 39-year-old is currently in a relationship with personal trainer Sam Asghari. She told the court they could not start a family because the conservatorship, which controls her medical care, refused to allow her to remove her birth control.
"I have an [IUD] inside of myself right now so I don't get pregnant.. but this so-called team won't let me go to the doctor to take it out because they don't want me to have children.
"So basically, this conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good."
She had been forced to perform against her willimage [email protected] captionThe star said her performance at Brighton Pride in 2018 took place against her will
Britney claimed her management threatened to sue her in 2018 if she didn't complete the 31-date Piece Of Me tour, which included dates at London's O2 Arena and Brighton Pride.
"My management said if I don't do this tour, I will have to find an attorney, and by contract my own management could sue me if I didn't follow through with the tour," she told the court.
"It was very threatening and scary. And with the conservatorship, I couldn't even get my own attorney. So out of fear, I went ahead and I did the tour."
She said her managers falsely told her therapist that she was failing to take her medications and refusing to participate in rehearsals.
When she objected to a piece of choreography, "it was as if I planted a huge bomb somewhere," she added.
"Ma'am, I'm not here to be anyone's slave. I can say no to a dance move."
She was made to take medication she did not want
The star said she had no control over her healthcare, alleging that doctors put her on Lithium – a mood-stabilising drug – after she cancelled her Las Vegas residency in late 2018.
"Lithium is a very, very strong and completely different medication compared to what I was used to," she told the court. "You can go mentally impaired if you take too much, if you stay on it longer than five months."
After beginning the medication, Britney said she "felt drunk" and "couldn't even have a conversation with my mom or dad, really, about anything."
She said "six different nurses" were sent to her house to monitor her condition, "and they wouldn't let me get in my car to go anywhere for a month".
Britney also expressed anger that her family had not intervened, saying they did "not do a goddamn thing".
She is being exploited for money
On several occasions, Britney drew attention to the fact she was making money for other people, while being refused access to her own fortune – estimated to be about $60m (£43m).
Court documents revealed by the New York Times earlier this week showed the star was given an allowance of $2,000 (£1,432) per week; while her father's salary as conservator was about $16,000 (£11,459) per month, plus money for office space rental and a percentage of various deals signed for his daughter.
"I shouldn't be in a conservatorship if I can work and provide money [for] other people," Britney told the court.
Noting that she had "worked since I was 17 years old", the star added: "It makes no sense whatsoever for the state of California to sit back and literally watch me with their own two eyes, make a living for so many people, and pay so many people, [taking] trucks and buses on the road with me and be told, I'm not good enough.
"But I'm great at what I do. And I allow these people to control what I do, ma'am. And it's enough. It makes no sense at all."
Her father does not have her best interests at heartimage copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionJamie Spears has had a say in his daughter's day-to-day affairs since 2008
Britney said that, at one point, her father had forced her to go to rehab at a cost of $60,000 – and seemed not to care about the distress it caused her.
"The control he had over someone as powerful as me – he loved the control to hurt his own daughter 100,000%. He loved it," she said.
"I cried on the phone for an hour and he loved every minute of it."
She added that her father "works me so hard" and claimed he threatened to "punish" her if she didn't follow his orders.
Her team is exposing her to paparazzi
Britney said her acting conservator, Jodi Montgomery, has put her in therapy twice a week, in a location where photographers can follow her.
"Yesterday, paparazzi showed me coming out of the place literally crying," she said. "It's embarrassing, and it's demoralising.
"I deserve privacy," she continued, saying she would prefer to continue therapy at home.
"I actually do know I need a little therapy," she told the judge, with a laugh.
She feels muzzled and wants her story made publicimage copyrightReutersimage captionFans behind the #FreeBritney campaign listened to her testimony outside the court
At the start of the hearing, a lawyer for the conservatorship raised concerns about Britney's testimony being public, but she disagreed.
"I feel like it should be an open court hearing and they should listen and hear what I have to say," she said.
The star expressed anger that her family can give "interviews to anyone they want" about her situation, while she is unable to speak to the press.
"I can't say one thing… I have a right to use my voice," she said,
"I've lied and told the whole world I'm OK and I'm happy," she continued. "I thought [that] if I said that enough maybe I might become happy, because I've been in denial. I've been in shock. I am traumatised. 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 added that she felt compelled to address the judge in the case, Brenda Penny, for a second time – having previously raised her concerns in a closed-door hearing in 2019.
"I don't think I was heard on any level when I came to court the last time," she said.
She wants the conservatorship to end
Some of Britney's demands were relatively simple – she wants to get her nails done, visit friends who "live eight minutes away" and be driven in her boyfriend's car.
But her main goal was to end the conservatorship, without her "having to be evaluated".
"I've done a lot of research, ma'am. And there's a lot of judges who do end conservatorships for people without them having to be evaluated all the time," she said.
"I shouldn't be in a conservatorship if I can work," she added. "I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive. I don't feel like I can live a full life."
"I deserve to have a life."
What has the response been?image copyrightPA Mediaimage captionThe star said she deserved "a two to three year break" to simply "do what I want to do".
Britney's father's statement said he was "sorry to see her suffering" and a lawyer for Jodi Montgomery said in an email that her client had an "obligation to uphold Ms Spears' medical and other privacy rights".
"We look forward to addressing all of Ms Spears' concerns and setting forth her medical team's perspective on them in a care plan that we will file with the court," they added.
Timeline: The key dates
First taste of stardom
Britney Spears, 16, catapults to the top of global pop charts with her debut single …Baby One More Time.
Image caption The teenage Spears generated both controversy and a loyal fandom
Image copyright by Getty Images
More than 20 years later, her debut album of the same name remains the best-selling album by a teenage solo artist.
Personal struggles burst into public view
Spears is hounded by the press amid a tumultuous custody dispute with ex-husband Kevin Federline, allegations that she is an unfit mother and questions about her mental health.
Image caption Spears was often pictured fleeing from tabloid photographers
Image copyright by Getty Images
Amid the tabloid frenzy, she is captured on camera shaving her head. A few days later, she smashes a paparazzo’s SUV repeatedly with an umbrella.
Spears’ father becomes her conservator
After stints in hospital and rehab, Spears’ father Jamie petitions a Los Angeles court to place his daughter under a temporary conservatorship. He is charged with making decisions about her career, as well as her estate and financial affairs.
The conservatorship is extended indefinitely later that year.
Image caption Spears leaving a restaurant in Beverly Hills with her father Jamie
Image copyright by Getty Images
Las Vegas residency
Despite being unable to handle her own affairs, Spears continues to work. After rehabilitating her image with a successful seventh studio album and several appearances on television, she begins a four-year concert residency in Las Vegas.
Image caption Spears onstage at the Planet Hollywood resort in Las Vegas
Image copyright by Getty Images
Tussling over the conservatorship
Spears says she is taking a break from work because of her father’s health issues. Later in the year, Jamie Spears steps away as her conservator temporarily, citing his poor health.
Britney Spears indicates through her lawyers that she no longer wants her father to be involved in handling her career. A lawyer says Spears is “afraid of her father” and will not return to the stage as long as he retains control.
Framing Britney Spears film premieres
A New York Times documentary about the pop star’s rise and fall, as well as about her treatment by the media, generates mass public interest in her conservatorship.
The piece highlights the #FreeBritney movement, the legions of Spears fans who have stood beside the pop star and attempted to decode her public appearances as calls for help.
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