A new documentary exploring Britney Spears's controversial conservatorship has revealed that court papers allegedly filed by the star's father claim she has dementia.
Spears's conservatorship has been the source of much debate in recent years, largely thanks to the growing #FreeBritney movement, and a documentary from the New York Times released earlier this year.
The conservatorship, which has been in place since 2008, means that Spears’s personal life and finances are under the control of a legal guardian. Spears’s father, Jamie Spears, has been co-conservator of his daughter’s estate for the duration of that time, but the star is currently fighting to have him removed.
The new BBC documentary, The Battle for Britney, is headed up by Bafta-winning journalist Mobeen Azhar, who visited Spears's hometown of Kentwood, Louisiana, before travelling to Los Angeles to interview the fans behind the #FreeBritney campaign.
In the documentary, Azhar speaks to one member of the #FreeBritney movement, Hayley Herms, who alleges that Spears was on dementia medication, saying: "I've seen dementia and there is no way any dementia patient is going on world tours, doing Vegas residencies, is learning 27 back-to-back combo numbers, full choreo."
Azhar initially shrugs off the claim as a “conspiracy theory”, but later found an alleged court document online which appeared to be signed by Jamie Spears, ticking a box related to “dementia placement or treatment”.
“There’s only two options with that. Britney might have dementia. Now I’m not a doctor but if that’s the case, then the world isn’t aware of that. But the other option is actually more sinister,” Azhar says.
“That’s the idea that she doesn’t have dementia but the conservatorship team have suggested that she has because they want to push the conservatorship through. And if that’s the case, then that’s terrifying.”
Another Free Britney campaigner, Megan Radford, said the claim meant she could be placed in a probate conservatorship, rather than a mental health one, which nobody can earn money from.
She said that Britney "clearly did not and does not have dementia", calling her father's case "fraudulent".
Britney is set to address the court directly in a conservatorship hearing set for June. "My client (Britney Spears) has requested a hearing at which she can address the court directly," the singer's lawyer Samuel Ingham told the court last week. "My client has asked that it be done on an expedited basis."
The judge set a Wednesday, June 23, hearing for Spears to speak to the court. It was not known which matters the singer planned to address.