A judge on Thursday issued a five-year restraining order forbidding Britney Spears’ former manager from contacting the singer or her family or making disparaging statements about them online.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny reached the decision after hearing testimony from the ex-manager, 44-year-old Sam Lutfi, and from Spears’ father, James Spears, who has controlled his daughter’s money and affairs via a court-ordered conservatorship for 11 years.
Penny rejected arguments from Lutfi’s attorney, Marc Gans, that the order is an unconstitutional restraint on his client’s free speech, calling Lufi’s testimony evasive and extending the temporary restraining order she first issued on May 8.
Spears and his lawyers suggested, and Penny appeared to agree, that Lutfi has attempted to incite fans who have used the social-media hashtag #FreeBritney to criticize the control James 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 Spears’ circumstances and those surrounding her.
But Gans argued that none of the statements were made directly to individuals or could be considered harassment.
He also emphasized that Lutfi has made no direct contact with Britney Spears 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.
Britney Spears was not present in court, and she has made very few public comments on the conservatorship.
In testimony that Penny struck from the record, Lutfi said that Britney Spears had reached out to him at various times through the years to complain about her father’s control over her.
Lutfi admitted that he had contacted Britney Spears’ mother, Lynne Spears, and the singer’s brother-in-law James Watson via texts and phone calls, and sent Lynne Spears money that was subsequently returned.