In 2008, Britney finally reached a boiling point. After years of abuse from the media, intense stalking of paparazzi and fighting custody battles, she had a breakdown. Britney was hospitalised and was placed under a conservatorship. In US law, this means a guardian or a protector is appointed by a judge to manage the financial affairs and daily life of a person. Conservatorships are common when a person is elderly and has a cognitive impairment.
At 26 years of age, Britney’s father Jamie Spears was appointed her conservator and has been for the last 13 years. He was in charge of her estate, finance, medication and some personal assets. Britney’s autonomy over her body, her finances and her whole life was stripped away. In 2019, Jamie stepped down as conservator but still remains co-conservator of her estate and finance.
On June 23, a hearing regarding Britney’s conservatorship was held. This was the first time Britney openly spoke about her conservatorship and pleaded for it to end. Britney said: ‘I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive. I don’t feel like I can live a full life.’
Britney stated that she is not allowed to remove the IUD method of birth control, even though she would love to have another child with her boyfriend. She said she was also forced on the psychiatric drug lithium, which is used as bipolar medication to stabilise mood, after she refused to perform a show in Las Vegas. Britney said the drug made her feel ‘drunk’.
Although Britney was regarded in an unfit state to manage herself, she still worked. Her Las Vegas residency was worth millions, she released three albums and she even starred in the US version of the X Factor. Court documents stated her net worth is $60 million dollars. She explained: ‘I shouldn’t be in a conservatorship if I can work.’ The most harrowing realisation is that Britney has paid for her lawyer and her fathers lawyer, even though she’s fighting to end the conservatorship.
After her plea to the Judge, she is able to file for a petition to end the conservatorship.
Capacity laws on the Isle of Man
Recently the Department of Health and Social Care has drafted a Capacity Bill which aims to modernise the capacity laws on the island and safeguard individuals who lack capacity to look after themselves (equivalent to conservatorship). This can be found on the government website. The Department has also asked for feedback on the new bill from members of the public, health care and government. Once the bill has been finalised it will be presented for consideration by the next Council of Ministers. The bill aims to make reforms in many areas, a few examples are:
- ‘Defining what we mean by a person who lacks capacity’
- ‘The test for establishing whether a person is unable to make a decision about a matter’
- ‘What must and must not be considered for the purposes of determining what is in a person’s best interests’
The aim is to consolidate the best interests and safeguard the individual who lacks capacity.
The #FreeBritney Movement
The movement began as early as 2009, when fans felt the conservatorship was unjust. Fans believed Britney was communicating her sense of imprisonment on social media through her cryptic instagram posts. The movement gained even more attention following the documentary, ‘Framing Britney’, which investigated the conservatorship and also the media’s part to play in her demise. It also highlighted the constant scrutiny, misogynistic interviews and the distasteful jokes Britney was subjected to.
Big celebrities have also shown support for the movement such as ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake, Mariah Carey and Miley Cyrus. Justin recently posted on Twitter: ‘No woman should ever be restricted from making decisions about her own body….We hope the courts, and her family make this right and let her live however she wants to live.’
Fans continue to fight for Britney to have her freedom and as Britney said to have her ‘life back’.