7 Most Shocking Claims From the "Controlling Britney Spears" Documentary

Britney Spears was heavily monitored, including at home, according to shocking new claims made in the documentary The New York Times Presents: "Controlling Britney Spears."

By Corinne Heller Sep 25, 2021 8:41 PMTags
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As Britney Spears continues her battle for independence, shocking new claims about her formerly secret life under a more than decade-long conservatorship have been made in a new documentary.

In The New York Times Presents: "Controlling Britney Spears," the follow-up to February's episode "Framing Britney Spears" and which was released on Hulu and FX on Friday, Sept. 24, a former member of her security team alleges that the firm he worked for, which was hired by the singer's father and co-conservator, Jamie Spears, monitored her phone activity and even planted a listening device in her bedroom, both seemingly without her knowledge. 

"I heard Britney's testimony and I think that was the final indicator that I wanted to come forward with what I know," said Alex Vlasov, who says he worked for Black Box Security and its president Edan Yemini, referring to comments Britney made as she spoke publicly about what she called her "abusive" 13-year conservatorship for the first time in a virtual court hearing on June 23.

Edan, whose company's website describes him as having a background in the Israeli Special Forces, said in a statement shown in the documentary, "Black Box have always conducted themselves within professional, ethical and legal bounds and they are particularly proud of their work in keeping Ms. Spears safe for many years."

In response to detailed questions from The New York Times, Jamie's lawyer said in a statement, "All of his actions were well within the parameters of the authority conferred upon him by the court. His actions were done with the knowledge and consent of Britney, her court-appointed attorney, and/or the court. Jamie's record as conservator — and the court's approval of his actions — speak for themselves."

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Britney's attorney Matthew Rosengart, who she hired earlier this year, told The New York Times, "Any unauthorized intercepting or monitoring of Britney's communications — especially attorney-client communications, which are a sacrosanct part of the legal system — would represent a shameful violation of her privacy rights and a striking example of the deprivation of her civil liberties."

"Placing a listening device in Britney's bedroom would be particularly inexcusable and disgraceful, and corroborates so much of her compelling, poignant testimony," the attorney continued. "These actions must be fully and aggressively investigated."

Britney was placed under her conservatorship in 2008, months after she underwent a psychiatric hospitalization following years of personal turmoil. Following her recent court testimony, the singer hired a new lawyer of her own choosing and he filed to remove Jamie as her co-conservator.

Jamie recently petitioned the court to end the conservatorship entirely. Britney's father has maintained he has always wanted what is best for his daughter. After her June testimony, his lawyer said in statement, "Mr. Spears is sorry to see his daughter suffering and in so much pain. Mr. Spears loves his daughter and misses her very much."

A hearing on the star's case is scheduled for Sept. 29.

Read some of the most shocking accusations made in "Controlling Britney Spears":

1. Britney's Phone Was Allegedly Monitored

In The New York Times Presents: "Controlling Britney Spears," released on Hulu and FX on Sept. 24, 2021, Alex Vlasov, a former Black Box Security employee who said he worked with the star's team for almost nine years, said Britney was granted a request to have an iPhone that he alleged was later heavily monitored. He said Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group employee Robin Greenhill, a member of Britney's management team, came up with the idea of using an iPad signed into the same iCloud that the pop star used on her iPhone. This would allow others to see all her messages, Facetime calls, Notes, browser history and photographs.

According to the documentary, a lawyer for Tri Star Sports & Entertainment said all allegations involving Robin, as well as Tri Star founder Lou Taylor, were false.

"Edan would bring me text messages of conversations that Britney would have and he would ask me to encrypt those messages and give it to him so he could pass it on to Robin and Jamie," Alex alleged. "They openly talked about monitoring her. Their reason for monitoring was looking for bad influence, looking for potential illegal activity that might happen. But they would also monitor conversations with her friends, with her mom, with her lawyer Sam Ingham."

Alex said that in 2019, after Britney completed a stint at a mental health facility, her security team was asked to prepare for her an iPhone "that would only be allowed to make phone calls."

In the documentary, Alex showed an email allegedly forwarded from Edan and which Britney's then-lawyer, Sam, allegedly sent to two lawyers representing Jamie while also CCing Edan, the singer's current co-conservator of her person, Jodi Montgomery, and Jodi's attorney.

Sam states in the email, whose date is not shown, that the singer asked him to tell her dad and security that she wants to keep her old phone, and that she is also requesting a new one. Britney's lawyer added that with regard to any new phone, he required written confirmation that no one other than the singer can access data on it. An alleged response from one of Jamie's lawyers is shown and states that Britney's father "confirms that he has no access to her calls, voicemails and texts."

2. Britney's Bedroom Was Allegedly Bugged

Alex said, "Edan had an audio recording device put into Britney's bedroom."

Alex added that days before the singer was due to meet with a court investigator, "Edan and one of the agents working with him came into my office and handed me the audio recording device and a USB drive and asked me to wipe it." 

"I had them tell me what was on it," he said. They seemed very nervous and said that it was extremely sensitive, that nobody can ever know about this and that's why I need to delete everything on it so there's no record of it. That raised so many red flags for me and I did not want to be complicit in whatever they were involved in. So I kept a copy because I didn't want to delete evidence." 

The documentary states that the recordings captured over 180 hours of audio, including Britney's interactions and conversations with her boyfriend and her children, and that it is unclear if the court was aware of such surveillance. It is illegal in California to record a confidential conversation without consent.

3. Britney's Social Life Was Allegedly Controlled

Alex said that the men in Britney's life had to sign contracts or non-disclosure agreements. The documentary also quoted from a court investigator's confidential 2016 report on the singer, which stated that Britney "cannot drive alone, she cannot befriend people, especially men, unless they are approved by her father," and that these men are "followed by private investigators to make sure their behaviors are acceptable to her father."

4. Britney Allegedly Feared Not Being Allowed to See Her Sons

The people interviewed in the documentary also talk about how fearful Britney seemed about doing anything or being accused of anything that could jeopardize her custody arrangement regarding her sons, Sean Preston, 16, and Jayden James, 15, who live primarily with their father, the singer's ex-husband Kevin Federline.

"We were told that the conservatorship was there for her own good," Alex explained. "That it was there to protect her from influence, from her losing money, that it was a way for her to have custody of her kids. The same thing was always repeated that this is something she wants."

Tish Yates, Britney's former head of wardrobe, recalled an alleged incident that demonstrated Britney's fear of being accused of doing something that would jeopardize her chance to see her sons. She said the singer became "distressed" after riding in a road case that she said "smells like pot." She quoted Britney as screaming, "I cannot breathe this. I'm going to fail a drug test. I won't see my boys."

5. Britney Has Long Called for the Conservatorship to End

While Britney spoke out about the matter publicly for the first time in her June 2021 court hearing, according to legal documents obtained by The New York Times, the singer went on the record in expressing her desire to end her conservatorship many years ago.

In 2014, the singer's court-appointed lawyer told then-judge Reva G. Goetz in a closed-door hearing about the conservatorship that "Britney wanted me to impress on the court the urgency in which she views the termination of the conservatorship. She expressed to me a desire to marry, have children, and to retire and to change her lifestyle, and she believes the conservatorship precludes her from doing that."

6. Security Was Allegedly in Charge of Britney's Meds

Alex says in "Controlling Britney Spears" that one of his co-workers told him they were ordered to hand Britney pre-packaged envelopes containing medication, saying, "We have to hand them to her and she can't leave, she has to take it there.'"

Alex added, "Every time that was brought up or discussed, it was like, 'This is what security should be doing because this is what the client is asking for and this is what the client needs.' The client is Jamie."

7. The #FreeBritney Movement Was Allegedly Monitored

Alex said Edan was initially "very worried" about the #FreeBritney movement "because it was something out of their control." Alex said that in its early days, "undercover investigators were placed within the crowds to talk to fans, to ID then, to document who they were."

He added, "It was all under the umbrella of, 'This is for Britney's protection.'"

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