FEBRUARY 24, 2009 Los Angeles Times
 

Britney Spears' father keeps tight control over pop star's every move

By Harriet Ryan
 

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Entering his second hour on the witness stand, Britney Spears' father was the picture of resigned misery.

His shoulders sagged like he was carrying buckets of cement. His suit jacket flapped open and his tie lay crooked across his barrel chest. His eyes were puffy and downcast and his mouth drooped in the pronounced frown of a bulldog.

Jamie Spears earned his living as a cook until last January, when his famous daughter was hospitalized a second time for psychological problems and a court appointed him to oversee every aspect of her life. It's a 24-7 job and, based on his testimony in Superior Court on Monday afternoon, an exhausting one. Her father is charged with deciding which doctors she sees, what cities her upcoming tour visits and even when and to whom she sends text messages.

'Sometimes she is allowed to use the cellphone and sometimes she is not,' Jamie Spears said of his 27-year-old daughter.

Jamie Spears said that last month, a nanny who helps care for the singer's two sons heard her talking on a cellphone in 'the wee hours of the morning.' When the singer left the house for dance class, a security guard went through her purse and found a prepaid phone, he said. Jamie Spears said he confronted his daughter, who told him someone had given it to her when she was staying at the Peninsula Hotel. The person had said that it was from Osama 'Sam' Lutfi and a former boyfriend, Adnan Ghalib, he said.

Jamie Spears is also seeking a restraining order against Ghalib.

The father of the pop star said that the numbers in the phone's history suggested she had called and texted Ghalib and Lutfi. Neither man was in court.

Jamie Spears took the stand in an effort to persuade a judge to impose a restraining order against Lutfi, the singer's onetime confidant whom her parents accuse of contributing to her breakdown with drugs, mind games and round-the-clock paparazzi coverage. Under questioning by his own attorney, Jamie Spears called Lutfi 'a predator' and suggested he was trying to work his way back into the performer's life.

'He causes disbelief in her mind,' he said. Her family, he said, 'just want the man to go away.'

On cross-examination, a lawyer for Lutfi pressed Jamie Spears to provide evidence that any conversations had occurred between his client and the singer.

'I don't know if they talked at all,' Jamie Spears acknowledged. But he said Lutfi had sent a text to Britney Spears through her hairdresser and that he also suspected Lutfi was behind a series of other messages from someone purporting to have damaging information about the singer.

The restraining order proceeding is going forward as Lutfi pursues a civil suit against Spears and her parents. He has alleged a host of charges including defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract. In court papers, he has suggested her parents do not have Spears' best interests at heart. Lutfi's attorney, Bryan Freedman, appeared to echo those charges with several questions about her tour.

'Do you have any concerns about her, emotionally, going on this world tour?' the attorney asked.

An attorney for Spears objected, saying it was irrelevant to the issue of the restraining order.

Judge Aviva Bobb is expected to hear from additional witnesses Wednesday before issuing a ruling.