A former bodyguard for Britney Spears went to court to support a sealed declaration about questionable behaviour by the US pop star in a child-custody dispute between the singer and ex-husband Kevin Federline – but never got to testify.
Tony Barretto, 28, arrived at the Los Angeles court yesterday with a lawyer but Family Court Commissioner Scott Gordon held only a brief open session before clearing the courtroom of everyone but attorneys for Spears and Federline to privately discuss unsealing documents in the ongoing case.
Outside court, Barretto’s attorney Gloria Allred issued a statement calling him a “key and secret witness”.
“We are shocked that Ms Spears’ attorneys chose not to cross-examine our client as to the substance of his declaration,” Allred said. “Our client was prepared to testify on issues of nudity by Ms Spears, drug use, and safety issues involving the children post-rehab.”
The singer married Federline in October 2004. She filed for divorce last November and the divorce became official on July 30. The two have joint custody of sons Sean Preston, two, and Jayden James, 1.
Spears went through episodes of bizarre behaviour early this year – including shaving her own head – and finally spent time in rehab.
Her attempts at a professional comeback took a hit last week with a sloppy performance at MTV’s Video Music Awards.
Spears hired Barretto when she left a rehabilitation facility in March but fired him on May 17 because “he didn’t hear her when she asked him to pick up her hat”, Allred said.
Allred said that while working for Spears, Barretto became concerned about the safety and well-being of the pop star’s children.
Federline and Spears were not present in court.
Laura Wasser, an attorney who represented Spears until yesterday, said Barretto was a disgruntled employee.
She said Spears’ “will be in excellent hands” with her new attorneys, Melvin Goldsman and Marci Levine. They did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
In another development, Spears was dropped by her management company, The Firm, just a month after she hired them for the run-up to the release of her new album on November 13.
“We have terminated our professional relationship with Britney Spears,” the company said in a statement. “We believe Britney is enormously talented, and has made a terrific record. But current circumstances have prevented us from properly doing our job.”