A top US recording executive has testified that he was Britney Spears' "lifeline" during the darkest days of her well-documented meltdown and he had never heard that she had a new manager named Sam Lutfi.
Barry Weiss, who headed Jive Records, the label on which Britney recorded, said his only contact from Lutfi in 2007-8 was when Weiss asked him for assurance that the singer would be on set to record a music video for her Blackout album.
"Britney was pretty erratic at the time," Weiss testified during trial in a defamation lawsuit brought by Lutfi against Britney's parents.
Lutfi claims he was Britney's personal manager and deserves millions as his share of her income during that period.
The defamation suit stems from the way Lutfi is depicted in a book written by Britney's mother Lynne that detailed the star's meltdown.
Conservators of Britney's estate, including her father, Jamie, who was in court, contend that Lutfi was never her manager but was simply a user who inserted himself into her life and preyed on her vulnerabilities.
Weiss told of working closely with her former personal manager, Larry Rudolph, but said he was never told Lutfi had assumed the role.
"Sam Lutfi never introduced himself or came in for a meeting. He never discussed records or a record contract," Weiss said.
Weiss said the singer would discuss with him the album's packaging, choice of a single record and creative matters normally discussed with a manager.
"There was no manager involved," Weiss said. "She was estranged from her family. I felt I was a lifeline for her. She was texting me constantly from her cellphone."