Pop star Britney Spears' former manager has claimed the singer was "addicted to amphetamines", a civil court has heard.
Lawyers for Spears' former confidante Sam Lutfi told jurors he was made a scapegoat for her mental breakdown despite his efforts to keep the singer from using drugs.
"She liked to use amphetamines. Mostly everything that went wrong was because of this drug," attorney Joseph Schleimer told the jury at Los Angeles Superior Court, adding that she had "a prescription for amphetamines, and overdosed on them".
He said Lufti was trying to help the singer but lost control in a series of events that led to her being hospitalised and placed under a court-ordered conservator. He claimed she shaved her head in order to avoid a drugs test.
Lutfi is suing Spears, her mother Lynne and father Jamie for defamation, breach of contract and libel and is seeking a share of the singer's fortunes, claiming he had an agreement to serve as her manager in exchange for 15 per cent of her earnings.
Schleimer's opening statements included flashing photos of Spears with a shaved head and striking an SUV with an umbrella. He said one of Lutfi's first actions after being hired as manager was having drug-sniffing dogs search the singer's home.
He claims the singer was addicted to amphetamines and that the sniffer dogs turned up a substance which was probably crystal meth.
"My client was made a scapegoat for drug abuse and erratic behavior of Britney Spears," Schleimer told the jury.
It is unlikely that Spears will appear before the court. Lawyers for Spears' parents will have their own opportunity to present opening remarks to jurors this afternoon, when the trial resumes.
Lutfi is seeking millions of dollars from Spears and her family, claiming her mother's book lied about him drugging and isolating the pop superstar.
The case is the culmination of years of acrimony between Lutfi and Spears' family and conservators, who successfully obtained a restraining order against him to keep him from contacting the singer or trying to intervene in her life.
The order has since expired , but lawyers are seeking repayment for more than $93,000 in legal fees — a judgment Lutfi is appealing.
Lutfi sued in February 2009, roughly a year after Spears was hospitalised and placed under the conservatorship to take control of her health and finances. It followed months of erratic behaviour by Spears, including shaving her head, driving with her baby on her lap and other incidents that led to her losing custody of her two sons with ex-husband Kevin Federline.
Lutfi maintains that he was trying to help her, though her parents say Lutfi cut her phone line, hid her mobile phones and used the paparazzi as "henchmen".
Schleimer claimed Lutfi befriended the paparazzi so that they would treat Spears with more respect and that he tried to assemble top talent agents to jumpstart her career.
Many of the claims were included in court filings used to obtain the conservatorship, but Lynne Spears included them in her 2008 book Through the Storm: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World.
Lutfi is suing for libel based on three chapters in the book that describe him as a "General" to the paparazzi and portray him as a man trying to manipulate not only the singer but her mother.
The trial continues.