LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Britney Spears shaved her head in 2007 because she was afraid her hair could be tested for drugs and used against her in a child custody battle against her ex-husband, the singer's former friend and confidante testified on Tuesday.
Sam Lutfi, who claims he was Spears' manager and is suing her for a chunk of her earnings from 2007 and 2008, told a Los Angeles jury during a civil trial against Spears and her parents that he met the superstar in a nightclub in the middle of her 2007/2008 personal and career meltdown.
Lutfi said he took steps to control aggressive paparazzi photographers who were hounding her day and night. "She was dealing with a lot of anxiety, with the way they followed her everywhere," he told the jury.
He said Spears told him of the infamous February 2007 incident in which she had her long blonde hair shaved in a Los Angeles beauty salon. "Britney was involved in a wicked child custody battle. She told me someone had told her that they can scientifically test her hair for a history of drug use so she shaved it off," Lutfi testified.
The trial has torn the veil off Spears' struggles during her meltdown when she was twice hospitalized, lost custody of her children, and photographs of her shaving her head and swinging an umbrella made international headlines.
Lutfi testified on Tuesday that he met Spears at a nightclub in spring 2007. She asked if she could have his hat and, self-conscious about his balding head, he refused. "She told me she doesn't get told no often, so it was refreshing to get told no for once," Lutfi said. "We talked for a while and hit it off."
They exchanged phone numbers and email addresses and soon became friends, he testified, adding that Spears told him about her divorce from Kevin Federline and her drug problems.
Lutfi is suing Spears' mother, alleging she libeled him in her 2008 book, "Through the Storm", in which she claimed Lutfi destroyed Britney Spears' telephone lines, may have drugged her food and tried to cut off the singer from her family. He is suing Spears' father for assault
Lutfi became a member of Spears' inner circle and moved into her Los Angeles home in 2007. Spears' attorneys argue that he was never her manager.
He is seeking 15 percent of Spears' earnings over several months in 2007 and 2008. She made $800,000 to $1 million per month during that period, attorneys have said.
Spears, who has not attended the trial, was placed under her father's conservatorship in 2008, giving him control of her health and finances. Now 30, she has made a comeback with world tours, hit albums and a new job as a judge on TV talent show "The X Factor."
Reporting By Brandon Lowrey, editing by Jill Serjeant