The father of pop icon Britney Spears would verbally assert his control over his daughter's life during the early days of the star's 13-year conservatorship, according to a new investigation, and would allegedly shout "I am Britney Spears!" to reinforce his dominance.
Following a highly-publicised mental health breakdown, the 'Toxic' hitmaker was placed under a court-approved conservatorship in 2008, with the judge appointing her father, Jamie Spears, and her attorney, Andrew Wallet, as co-conservators, or legal guardians. Under American legislation, the conservator is selected to manage the financial affairs and/or daily activities of the conservatee, typically due to old age or physical or mental limitations. The conservatee's daily life - from their assets to their living arrangements to healthcare - is under the control of their guardian.
Wallet resigned as co-conservator of Spears' estate after 11 years in March 2019, and six months later, her father stepped down from managing her personal affairs, but remains a conservator of his daughter's finances. Care manager Jodi Montgomery, a licensed fiduciary, was appointed temporary conservator of personal affairs.
On Saturday (local time), The New Yorker published an investigative report chronicling the conservatorship from its inception to Spears' current bid for freedom, particularly focusing on how her father managed to seize - and maintain - control of her life for 13 years.
The report also uncovered disturbing allegations against Jamie Spears, including that the now-68-year-old would repeatedly declare "I am Britney Spears!" during the early days of his daughter's conservatorship.
A former friend of the Spears family, Jacqueline Butcher, told The New Yorker she first heard the declaration during a 2008 meeting between Jamie Spears' lawyer, Geraldine Wyle, and his ex-wife, Lynne Spears - the mother of his three children, Bryan, Britney and Jamie Lynn.
According to Butcher, Lynne had been discussing the positive outcomes that could come from the conservatorship, which she believed would only remain in place for a handful of months. This stance reportedly angered Jamie, leading him to claim that he had total control over their daughter's life - including Lynne's "access" to Britney.
"At one point, Butcher recalled him bellowing, 'I am Britney Spears!'" the report continued.
"It was a refrain she would hear him repeat often during the early years of the conservatorship, [Butcher] said. Lynne, as Butcher remembered it, grew quiet."
The report also acknowledged how Jamie Spears could be "domineering and hostile" towards his daughter, and the two had a strained relationship prior to the conservatorship.
Butcher also alleged to The New Yorker that following Spears' guest appearance on the popular sitcom How I Met Your Mother, her father announced that she was "fat" and he would organise a diet and trainer for her to "get back in shape".
"He would get all in her face - spittle was flying - telling her she was a whore and a terrible mother," Butcher told the outlet.
"Lynne [Britney's mother] was just, like, 'Obey Daddy and they'll let you out'."
The source alleged that Jamie would manipulate his daughter into cooperation by threatening to withhold access to her two sons, Sean Preston and Jayden James. Anyone she became close to was reportedly fired and removed from her life, Butcher continued.
"Anyone that works for her from now on goes through me," her father would reportedly say.
The nature of the conservatorship has long been a topic of intense debate and public interest, sparking the movement #FreeBritney in a bid to terminate the arrangement.
Last week, Spears' conservatorship once again dominated headlines after the pop star gave testimony during a hearing at the Los Angeles Superior Court. The mother-of-two made a series of harrowing allegations against her father regarding her treatment during the 13-year conservatorship, including that she was prohibited from having her IUD removed due to concerns she would fall pregnant again. The singer also claimed her father and management should be "in jail" for the abuse she allegedly suffered under the arrangement, including the loss of her mental and physical autonomy. She was allegedly forced to take the drug lithium against her will and commit to performances she did not want to do.
"I'm traumatised. I am not happy, I can't sleep. I'm so angry, it's insane. And I'm depressed," she told the court in her statement, which was delivered remotely due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
"I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive… All I want is to own my money and for my boyfriend to be able to drive me in his car."
Spears is calling for the current conservatorship to end immediately, without the condition of clearing a health evaluation. It follows the beginning of a legal process last year to prevent Jamie Spears from ever becoming conservator of her personal affairs again.
Following Spears' shocking testimony in court last week, court documents obtained by E! News showed that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge denied a month-old request by her attorney, Samuel Ingham III, to have her father dropped as sole conservator.
However, this court decision was not made in response to Spears' testimony. According to Variety, the judge cannot make a ruling based on her public statement until Spears has filed a petition to terminate her conservatorship.
In response to his daughter's allegations of abuse, Jamie Spears has requested an investigation into the claims of mistreatment. In a court filing on Tuesday (local time), attorneys for Jamie Spears said he was "greatly saddened to hear of his daughter's difficulties and suffering" and "believes there must be an investigation into those claims". The attorneys said he had no intention of trying to reclaim the position and was not involved in her "personal care or medical or reproductive issues".
The attorneys also asked the court to hold a hearing to investigate whether Montgomery should continue to oversee the singer's personal affairs given Spears' testimony.