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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 October, 2003, 08:48 GMT 09:48 UK
Britney spared stalker court date
Britney Spears
Spears is seeking an injunction against one of her fans
Britney Spears will not have to appear at a hearing next week for a restraining order to keep away an alleged stalker, a judge has ruled.

He also ruled that Spears could skip a question-and-answer session with Japanese fan Masahiko Shizawa's lawyer.

Mr Shizawa, of Yokohama, is accused of sending her hundreds of love letters and photographs and following her to her homes.

But the 43-year-old businessman has insisted he is just an "avid fan".

Superior Court Judge Alan Haber, sitting in Santa Monica, California, said he believed Spears' appearance in court would amount only to "additional harassment".

Fair hearing

He told Mr Shizawa's lawyer, Simon Robert Hiller, that the evidence showed his client "has been stalking and harassing Spears for a considerable amount of time".

He said he would keep an open mind for the 7 October hearing on Spears' request for a permanent injunction.

After the hearing Mr Hiller said: "She doesn't want to come to court and substantiate or back up her statements.

"It's hard to have a fair hearing when your client is innocent. He's the one being harassed in a sense."

He said his client had sent the 21-year-old pop star letters and e-mails, but had not been on her property. He had had no contact with Spears since October 2002.

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