Britney leads paparazzi on joyride

Spears released from hospital Wednesday
February 22, 2008 6:18:41 PM PST
Britney Spears was quietly released from a hospital Wednesday and slipped away unnoticed, only to be spotted hours later driving through Los Angeles with paparazzi and a television helicopter in tow.Her incognito getaway from UCLA Medical Center - a stark contrast to the extensive police escort that brought her in - required no law enforcement presence, said Capt. Sharyn Buck, commander of the North Hollywood police station that covers Spears' home area.

"There was no media, no paparazzi, and no need for public safety protection," Buck said.

It didn't take long for the cameras to find her.

By late afternoon, Spears had left home in a black Mercedes-Benz and drove for a while, then exchanged seats with an unidentfied man, the myfoxla.com Web site reported as it streamed KTTV Fox 11 news helicopter video from overhead.

Paparazzi vehicles zoomed around the car, which photographers swarmed at every stop. Spears' car was observing traffic laws, the helicopter pilot reported.

At one point the Mercedes pulled into the Beverly Hills Hotel entrance. Beverly Hills police Sgt. Mark Miner said a "keep the peace" detail was sent to the hotel, a common practice when paparazzi are causing a nuisance.

The troubled singer was hospitalized Jan. 31 and held for a 72-hour evaluation that was originally set to expire Sunday. Her stay was then extended for two weeks, a person close to the pop star told The Associated Press, which may explain why she was able to avoid attention on her way out.

Until Feb. 14, Spears remains under the conservatorship of her father, an arrangement created after a judge determines a person can no longer care for themselves or their personal affairs. James Spears was named her conservator Monday, and he and attorney Andrew Wallet were made co-conservators of the estate.

As her conservator, Spears' father has been granted access to all of her medical records and authority to determine where Spears lives and who she sees.

Spears, who is in a child custody battle with ex-husband Kevin Federline, was also briefly hospitalized earlier in January after police were called to her home when she refused to return her sons to a Federline bodyguard after a visit. That trip to the hospital occurred amid a swarm of paparazzi.

Spears has since lost all visitation rights to her sons, 1-year-old Jayden James and 2-year-old Sean Preston.

On Friday, a court issued a restraining order against Sam Lutfi, who's been at Spears' side in recent months after the singer's mother declared that he held her daughter hostage in her own home, drugged her, took over her finances and controlled the paparazzi. Lutfi was ordered to stay away from Spears, her homes and her parents' and siblings' homes.

The singer has been in a spiral of increasingly bizarre behavior since November 2006, when she filed for divorce from Federline.


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