The sister of Britney Spears' former manager testified Wednesday that the pop singer said in recent months that she was afraid of her father and wanted help hiring her own lawyer.
Attorneys for Spears' father and conservatorship are seeking a long-standing restraining order against Osama "Sam" Lutfi, a manager and close confidant of the singer during her personal meltdown, that forbids him from contacting her.
They reiterated Wednesday that in December and January, Lutfi violated an agreement between him and Jamie Spears not to contact the "Circus" singer. That accord was reached last summer, after Jamie Spears agreed not to seek an extension to a temporary restraining order issued when he took control of his daughter's affairs.
Christina Lutfi said Britney Spears told her that she was afraid of her father and needed her brother's help to hire her own attorney. The 25-year-old was introduced as a surprise witness Wednesday, moments after a judge rejected a motion to dismiss the restraining order.
She was also the last witness in a hearing that has spanned three months. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Aviva K. Bobb continued temporary orders until she hears closing arguments April 21.
Christina Lutfi said her brother gave her a prepaid cell phone, which she secretly gave to Spears at a hotel sauna, so that the two could contact each other. She said she repeatedly called the number, trying to make sure the singer was safe.
She claimed she used her brother's cell phone in recent months. But under questioning by Jamie Spears' attorneys, Christina Lutfi could not recall the phone number of one of her brother's cell phones, nor the phone she said she'd handed to Spears.
She also acknowledged that she shared the cell phone with her brother at their parents' home, where a landline is installed.
What the El!?! Editorial:
Oh goodie, another Lutfi gets 15 minutes of fame.
I don't understand how sneaking her a prepaid cell phone and calling her over and over again means she was calling out for help.
And I think it's funny, if you are going to make this case that she's in trouble and you're the only one who wants to help, that you didn't write down the number of the phone, record a conversation or anything.
Honestly at some point Jamie's conservatorship will have to run out, but right now, she's looking and acting healthy. Enough said.
Jamie Spears testified in February that he eventually found and confiscated the phone, which indicated communications to Lutfi and his daughter's ex-boyfriend, Adnan Ghalib. The phone's discovery, and a series of late-night and early phone calls from Lutfi, led to the current restraining order application.
Jamie Spears has controlled his daughter's personal and financial affairs since last February, when he intervened after the singer had to be hospitalized twice. The singer's mother, Lynne Spears, accused Lutfi at the time of grinding pills into her daughter's food to control her.
Lutfi denied that claim in a defamation lawsuit filed against the Spears family in February.
Lutfi's attorney, Bryan Freedman, argued Wednesday that Jamie Spears' attorneys hadn't shown enough evidence that the pop singer had suffered "substantial emotional distress" as a result of the calls and text messages.
Bobb rejected that argument when Freedman moved to dismiss the case. She said testimony from Britney Spears' hairdresser and a security guard indicated the singer was troubled by Lutfi's overtures.
An arguments were echoed by attorney for lawyer Jon Eardley, who the conservatorship also hopes to block from contacting Spears. Eardley has repeatedly been rejected in attempts to install himself as Britney Spears' attorney, and was rebuffed last month at a hearing where he sought to invalidate the conservatorship.
Evidence showed communications between Lutfi and Eardley, and Jamie Spears' attorneys have called their relationship a "conspiracy" to undermine the conservatorship.