Britney Spears said yesterday (Feb. 9) she “made a mistake” by driving a car with her infant son in her lap, but the agency that photographed the incident denied her claim that paparazzi were hounding her.
Spears has said a “frightful” encounter with “physically aggressive” photographers Monday outside a California coffee shop prompted her to pull out of the parking lot without first strapping her 5-month-old baby, Sean, back into his car seat.
Pictures published Tuesday showed Spears at the wheel of her vehicle, holding Sean on her lap, as she drove down the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. A man identified as her bodyguard is shown next to her in the front passenger seat.
The photos ignited a media firestorm and led the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to visit Spears’ home on Tuesday at the request of county child welfare authorities.
In a television interview broadcast yesterday on “Access Hollywood,” Spears acknowledged she had used poor judgment, saying, “I made a mistake and so it is what it is, I guess.”
She stuck to her assertion that she was reacting to photographers: “Being put in the situation that I was in, it was kind of bad with the paparazzi.”
The photo agency X17, which took the exclusive pictures, disputed Spears’ account in a statement, saying, “These pictures were taken in a very peaceful context, in which photographers exhibited no aggressive behavior.”
X17 Vice President Kelly Davis said only two photographers were involved, one of whom happened to be in a Starbucks parking lot when Spears arrived. “He was parked four or five parking spaces away and never got out of his car,” Davis said.
Spears, whose bodyguard had gone into the coffee shop while she waited outside with Sean in her lap, actually recognized the photographer, waived at him through her window and asked him not to take pictures, to which he agreed, Davis said.
A second photographer, alerted by his colleague to Spears’ presence, arrived in time to snap a picture of the singer as she drove out of the parking lot. The first photographer then followed her onto the highway, taking the photo that ran in the New York Post and elsewhere.
“At the point where she made the decision to drive with the baby in her lap, there was only one photographer and he wasn’t even shooting,” Davis said. “[Paparazzi] usually are swarming around her, but on that day they weren’t.”
Under California law, children are required to be secured in a child-safety seat until they are at least 6 years old or weigh at least 60 pounds. Both the sheriff’s department and the California Highway Patrol said they are not investigating the incident.
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