Britney 'manager' tells of meeting
Britney Spears' self-styled manager has taken the stand in his defamation case against her parents, claiming he acted to protect her from paparazzi and others during a critical period in her life.
Sam Lutfi told jurors in Los Angeles how he met Britney at a nightclub in May 2007 and said she struck up a conversation by asking him if she could have his hat.
He said he told her no. "She liked that. She doesn't get told 'no' often. So it was refreshing to hear 'no' once. We started talking, hit it off and she started calling and texting me. We hung out and became friends," he said.
Lutfi described the singer at that time as being "in crisis mode. She was very distraught. She was having a child custody battle and was in the middle of a divorce". He added that she also had drug problems.
Lutfi said he met her after she had shaved her head during a very public meltdown. "She was dealing with a lot of anxiety," he said.
The witness, whose evidence was interrupted frequently by objections by lawyers for 30-year-old Britney's parents Jamie and Lynne, was asked by his lawyer if he took steps to control the press mob that was following her constantly.
Lutfi said he alleviated the problem with photographers by texting them where Britney would be going so they could follow her at a safe distance.
"I also started setting up meetings at her home with press photographers so they could get to know her as a human being," he said, referring to himself as the singer's "manager". He did not say when he became her manager.
In his lawsuit, Lutfi claims Lynne Spears defamed him in her book about her daughter's darkest days. She depicted him as a Svengali-like figure who exploited Britney's vulnerabilities and gave her drugs to control her. He denies those claims and portrays himself as the singer's protector who managed her career during the period when she was in distress and ultimately admitted to hospital for mental problems.
Earlier, Superior Court judge Suzanne Bruguera denied a motion by Mr Lutfi's lawyer to gain access to Britney's medical records from the UCLA neuropsychiatric unit.