While Britney Spears sits in a darkened room at the UCLA Medical Center undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, those closest to her are caught in a public power struggle over who decides what is best for the troubled popstar.
“There was a lot of arguing going on between her family and Sam Lutfi,” says a Spears family friend. “There’s a major tug of war going on.”
Despite putting on a united front during the Jan. 3 custody standoff that resulted in Britney’s first 72-hour emergency hold (known as the 5150), the relationship between Spears’s family and her close pal Lutfi reached its breaking point at the hospital on Wednesday night. While Lutfi has been the primary liaison between Spears and her doctors, her family – who include mom Lynne, dad Jamie and brother Bryan – are currently lobbying to assume that role.
Lutfi hasn’t taken their attempts lightly, telling PEOPLE, “They came into the house with an agenda and are trying to look like the heroes after all the dirty work has been done.” He adds, “Their main worry is being financially cut off.”
Counters a source close to Lynne, “She does not make money off those children. The media have made Lynne look like a money-grabber, and she isn’t.”
Sources confirm Lynne’s Kentwood mansion Serenity is still paid for by her elder daughter.
Until now, a Kevin Federline source says Lynne has put up with Lutfi’s hold over her daughter’s life because she’s “working under the motto, ‘Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.’ ” The source also says Lutfi has been “telling Britney that Adnan [Ghalib] and her mother have been conspiring to do this so he looks like a savior. It’s really sick and crazy.”
Danish businessman Claus Hjelmbak, who was with Spears during a late-night Jan. 17 shopping spree at the boutique Kitson, defends his friend, saying that Lutfi, “has been instrumental in getting her the help she needed.”
• Reporting by BRYAN ALEXANDER, DAVID CAPLAN, ALICIA DENNIS, JENNIFER GARCIA and RUTH LANEY