A Los Angeles judge has slapped a five-year ‘civil harassment’ restraining order on Britney Spears’ ex-manager after the troubled singer requested it.
Sam Lutfi was accused of stirring up the ‘Free Britney’ movement by urging its followers to ‘raise hell’ and ‘unleash’ against her conservatorship that’s been run by her father James for more than a decade.
The accusation came at a downtown Los Angeles court hearing where the the 37 year-old singer’s legal team asked Judge Brenda Penny to force Lutfi to stay 200 yards away from her.
Lawyers for Britney Spears (left, at her birthday party in 2007) has obtained a five-year restraining order against ex-manager Sam Lufti (centre) for making comments about the singer and her family which amount to civil harassment
Lutfi – who appeared in court today with a shaved head and wearing a dark jacket and dark jeans – ‘says to the public, “raise hell” and “unleash”,’ attorney Chad Hummel told the court.
‘He’s calling them (the Spears family) hillbilly criminals. This has to stop,’ he continued.
‘Jamie (James) Spears has been begging Mr. Lutfi for more than a decade to stay away from his family.’
Spears was first granted a ‘civil harassment’ temporary restraining order on May 8 against Lutfi after claiming in court documents that he had been repeatedly texting Britney’s mother Lynne, and trying to incite her fans with the #freebritney movement.
Sam Lufti, who was the singer’s manager between 2007 and 2008 was accused of being engaged in ‘vigilante action, bribes and release of private information’ to undermine the pop star’s conservatorship because of Britney’s father’s control over the singer’s affairs (pictured in 2016 at an earlier court hearing)
The singer’s lawyers accused Lutfi of posting ‘disparaging and threatening comments’ against Spears and her family.
Her attorneys also claimed Lutfi had engaged in ‘vigilante action, bribes and release of private information’ to undermine the pop star’s conservatorship and, said her attorneys, he sent a series of texts to Britney’s mother Lynne Spears, 64, criticizing her for her lack of action amid the family crisis.
At today’s hearing Britney’s 66 year-old father, James – dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and gray tie – told the court that he was ‘very upset and very angry’ when he heard last April that Lutfi had texted James’ son-in-law, James Watson, offering him $10,000 to help support a move to take Britney’s conservatorship away from James and have Lynne take over.
‘Britney complained she was being abused by her father. She said for years she wanted to get out of the conservatorship,’ Lufti told the court
According to Britney’s attorney Jack Yeh, the text said Lutfi had ‘collected a considerable fund(s) to finance a change in conservatorship… we propose to make Lynne Spears the new conservator.’
The text then offered to ‘advance $10G to you to show we mean business.’
After hearing the text read out in court, James Spears said, ‘I was angry because it was another way of Sam attacking my family….of taking down the conservatorship.’
When Lutfi’s attorney, Marc Gans, cast doubt on whether it was his client who had sent the text, James said he was ‘positive’ and added ‘I have the proof right here in my phone. That’s one hundred per cent how he (Lutfi) is.’
James admitted in court that his relationship with his famous daughter ‘has always been strained’, but when Lutfi contacted him to help improve relations with Britney, he told Lutfi to ‘go away.’
‘Lutfi said he was trying to repair the relationship but he was a predator.’
When attorney Hummel asked Lutfi today why he sent money twice to Lynne Spears, first $1,000, then $3,000 – both of which she sent back to him – at the time he was trying to get her appointed Britney’s conservator, he told the court: ‘I was offering her some financial help.
‘Lynne was talking on Instagram about the Free Britney movement and how people were offering her money. So I sent her some money.
‘Britney complained she was being abused by her father. She said for years she wanted to get out of the conservatorship.’
The restraining order prevents Lufti from coming within 200 yards of Britney, as well as her two children, her parents and her boyfriend, Sam Asghari (left)
Asking Judge Penny to impose the restraining order, Hummel told the court: ‘We think we have produced convincing evidence that rises to the level of civil harassment. Lutfi has been asked repeatedly to stay away from the Spears family – but he cannot help himself.
‘Lutfi is threatening the existence and foundation of the conservatorship. Mr. Lutfi thinks its his mission to undo the conservatorship. He thinks this is his right. He cannot continue to do what he is doing.’
Lutfi’s attorney, Gans, argued that imposing a restraining order would be ‘presumptively unconstitutional’ because, although he may have made disparaging or critical comments about Spears, ‘under the law he is allowed to say something critical about Miss Spears conservatorship.’
Calling a restraining order ‘a clear violation of Lutfi’s First Amendment rights’, Gans added: ‘All of Mr. Lutfi’s statements were made to the public, to Lynne Spears, to James Watson, not to Ms Spears directly.
‘He did not stalk Miss Spears. He did not show up in person. He posted emails and tweets. Lynne Spears never told him to stop sending emails. Nor did James Watson say “Don’t call, don’t text me”.’
Gans accused the Spears legal team of trying to make Lutfi a scapegoat of the ‘Free Britney’ movement.
‘He cannot be blamed for the the movement – it is independant of him. He is not the person behind it,’ he said.
Despite Lutfi’s legal arguments, Judge Penny decided in favor of Spears, saying she found that James Spears was ‘credible and forthright,’ while Lutfi was ‘invasive, not forthright or credible’.
The restraining order Judge Penny granted means that for the next five years, Lutfi must stay a minimum of 200 yards away from not only Britney, but also her two children, her parents and her boyfriend, Sam Asghari.
Britney’s dispute with Lutfi comes at the same time as another court case involving her conservatorship which was enacted in 2008, following her shocking 2007 public breakdown and subsequent hospitalization.
Her father, James Spears, has been overseeing the conservatorship but her mother Lynne reportedly wants to take a bigger role in the care of her daughter.
On May 10, a judge ordered a full investigation into the status of Britney’s conservatorship and also into her financial affairs, plus custody of her sons, Sean, 13, and Jayden, 12, which she currently shares with her ex-husband, Kevin Federline.
And later James Spears filed a notice of intent to expand his daughter’s conservatorship from California to three other states, Louisiana, Florida and Hawaii, where she has homes.
The conservatorship case has another hearing scheduled for August 15.