A judge has issued a five-year restraining order forbidding Britney Spears' former manager Sam Lutfi from contacting the singer or her family or making deprecating statements about them online.
Her former manager Lutfi was understood to pose a serious enough threat to her and her family that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny granted the restraining order against Lutfi on Thursday. While Lutfi was present for the hearing, Britney wasn't there - her father, Jamie Spears, and lawyers were speaking on the pop star's behalf.
Penny rejected arguments from Marc Gans, Lutfi's attorney, that the order is an unconstitutional restraint on his free speech, calling his testimony evasive and extending the temporary restraining order she first issued on May 8.
Britney had actually gone to court last month seeking a temporary restraining order. She claimed that Lutfi was attempting to harass her by getting in touch with her mother and adding fuel to the #FreeBritney movement that wants her out of her conservatorship.
The singer's father also admitted under questioning from Gans that he does not have the most peaceful relationship with Britney. “Me and my daughter’s relationship has always been strained,” Spears said.
But in further testimony, Spears testified that Lutfi was close to Britney in 2007 and 2008 serving briefly as her manager, and was a “predator” on his family for more than a decade whose harassment has recently resumed. “I worried that he was trying to take down the conservatorship,” Spears said from the stand. “I was very angry. I was worried that we were right back in 2008.”
Spears and his lawyers suggested, which Penny agreed to, that Lutfi has attempted to incite fans who have used the social media hashtag #Free Britney to criticize the control that Spears and the court have had over the pop star for the past 11 years. Lutfi’s Twitter account, the subject of much of the testimony, consists almost entirely of posts critical of Britney's circumstances and of those surrounding her.
Lutfi also emphasized that he has made no direct contact with Britney herself, and suggested that her father and his lawyers were not speaking for her and had provided no evidence that she had in any way been harmed by Lutfi’s statements.
It is unclear if Britney wants out of the conservatorship herself, but she has expressed wanting more freedom in the past. For instance, the star really wants to own an iPhone, but her father, concerned with the dangers of social media, denied the request. When Britney took up the matter with a judge in the past, her father's decision was accepted.
The hearing was closed to the media and the public. Lutfi argues that he hadn't contacted Britney in a decade and that the order violates his constitutional rights.