This is Britney Spears’ world, and you just live in it.
For the first time in five years, Spears appears to be back in the news, with her old friends in the spotlight. On Wednesday, it was revealed that Spears and some of her former childhood friends are suing supermarket tabloid, the National Enquirer, for allegedly defaming the pop star and her family.
According to the lawsuit, the newspaper ran an “outrageous and heartless” article in 2016 that alleged Spears was spending the night with an “out of control” 16-year-old, Kyle Ashworth, in her home, and now that the allegations are “fully reported in the press, [Britney] is receiving a wave of death threats.” Spears then filed a restraining order against Ashworth in 2015.
On Wednesday, The Sun reported that Ashworth was behind some of the death threats. That same day, Ashley Thomas (a.k.a. “Royal Flush”) was released from jail after she was arrested and accused of stalking Spears and her two sons from her previous marriage to Kevin Federline. The 19-year-old was initially arrested in 2016 after twice approaching the Spears’s home, according to documents.
A judge denied Spears’s restraining order in 2015, and the lawsuit says that a therapist described Ashworth’s behavior as being like “a serial killer,” as she continued to harass the Spears and her children.
The National Enquirer vehemently denies the allegations. The tabloid’s lawyer, Doug Buszler, said the allegations are “intentionally and falsely false.” He told The Washington Post that while the publisher apologized to the Spears family for the 2016 article, that apology does not lead to a change in the reporting.
“I can say that our reporting has continued to stand up to the scrutiny of the courts, the courts have not denied our basic accuracy,” Buszler said. “We stand by all of our reporting.”
Readers of The Sun will recall that Spears filed the lawsuit after the tabloid ran an article in May 2016 claiming that the singer spent the night with an “out of control” 17-year-old while her sons were in the middle of a math test. After the story ran, the Spears’s lawyers said Spears received dozens of threats, according to the suit.
It sounds like Spears has a pretty active lawyer, as the Enquirer news was not only in the news, but the lawsuit was filed by the singer’s longtime manager, Sam Lufti.
Lufti is a controversial figure who was involved in a legal battle with Spears in 2014, which resulted in Lufti being charged with failing to properly monitor Spears’s personal life and supplying her with drugs, such as Xanax and ecstasy. Lufti was also the inspiration for Federline’s 2010 song, “Toxic,” which helped to establish Spears as a pop icon.
Lufti was fired from Spears’s manager job in 2016 and became a member of the management team now helmed by Jeff Raymond, who took over the Spears’s old home. Raymond told The Guardian in 2016 that Lufti’s firing was not a breakup with Spears and that it was his decision to get rid of the former manager.