Spears has lived under a strict arrangement since 2008, when a California court placed her under a unique legal guardianship largely governed by her father, Jamie. “Framing Britney Spears” suggests the ex-pop star was used by some of her handlers.

Britney Spears supporters sit outside a court hearing concerning the pop singer's conservatorship at the Stanley Mosk Courhouse in Los Angeles on February 11, 2021.
Britney Spears supporters sit outside a court hearing concerning the pop singer's conservatorship at the Stanley Mosk Courhouse in Los Angeles on February 11, 2021. (AP)

The Britney Spears legal case has been back in court with little progress on the increasingly controversial issue of how much longer the pop star will have her personal and business affairs controlled by other people.

Los Angeles Superior Court judge Brenda Penny said the singer's father and a newly appointed financial trust company must work together to develop an investment plan that will benefit Spears.

Spears has made clear in the past year that she no longer wants her father Jamie involved in her affairs, but the judge in December extended his conservatorship until September 2021. 

Jamie Spears was appointed conservator in 2008 after the singer was hospitalised for psychiatric treatment.

Thursday's hearing, which Spears did not attend in person, followed the broadcast of a TV documentary last week that brought new scrutiny to the case and to the widely publicised breakdown of the former teen phenomenon.

The documentary highlighted through eyewitnesses and friends of the star that Spears did not want her father to hold the conservatorship, wishing for an independent party to hold the post instead.

The New York Times documentary also cast doubt on the need for a conservatorship over the Grammy award winner who appears highly functional to the people who know her. 

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On social media, fans and celebrities have been expressing support for Spears with the hashtags #We'reSorryBritney and #FreeBritney.

Glamour magazine on Monday issued an apology, saying "We are all to blame for what happened to Britney Spears - we may not have caused her downfall, but we funded it."

Spears later revived her career but she pulled out of a Las Vegas concert residency in 2019 and briefly entered a mental health facility.

Outside the courthouse on Thursday, a handful of fans from the small but vocal #FreeBritney campaign called for the conservatorship to end.

Supporters of the campaign believe Spears is being kept prisoner and that she is sending cryptic signals begging to be freed through her social media accounts, which usually consist of selfies or her dancing at home.

"I want her to be independent. I want her to be able to live her life on her own terms. That's why we're here. That's why I'm here," said 28-year-old Dustin Strand.

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Judge Penny overruled an objection of Jamie Spears' attorney, Vivian Lee Thoreen, who argued that he should not yield previously granted rights and powers while working with his new co-conservator, The Bessemer Trust on Thursday.

Thoreen had argued that the proposed order Britney Spears' court-appointed attorney Samuel Ingham III drafted to appoint the new co-conservator was “unclear and ambiguous by design” as he seeks to take authority away from Jamie Spears.

Others of her objections to the order were sustained.

After the ruling Thoreen said, “The rulings show the court's confidence in our client Jamie Spears and Bessemer Trust to manage the conservatorship of Ms Spears estate together,” and said Jamie Spears “looks forward to working with Bessemer ... in the best interests of his daughter."

While the judge's decision can be seen as a minor victory for Britney Spears and Ingham, appointed by the court to speak directly for her in the conservatorship’s decisions, Ingham repeated that her goal is to have her father out entirely.

The judge declined Ingham's request to suspend Jamie Spears as conservator at a dramatic and contentious hearing in November, at which Ingham said that Britney Spears feared her father and refused to resume her career so long as he had power over it.

Thoreen said the statements were inadmissible hearsay that did not reflect the reality of the situation.

Penny instead appointed the Bessemer Trust as a co-conservator, leading to the current fight over power-sharing.

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Celebrities express support

Many celebrities including Bette Midler tweeted the #FreeBritney hashtag after the documentary aired. 

Miley Cyrus shouted “We love Britney!” during her pre-Super Bowl performance Sunday.

Pitbull, at a Hollywood news conference on Thursday, said, “As far as what’s going on with Britney, that’s been going on for many, many, many years. Hopefully, they can break this cycle. And hopefully she gets a chance to control her own destiny.”

Now 39 and the mother of two sons, she has not performed, recorded music or made media appearances since declaring a career hiatus early in 2019.

On her Twitter and Instagram accounts on Tuesday, she shared a video of a performance from three years earlier with the caption, “I’ll always love being on stage ... But I am taking the time to learn and be a normal person ….. I love simply enjoying the basics of every day life !!!!”

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies