Simon Cowell has expressed doubt about reports that Britney Spears is in the midst of a mental breakdown.

The singer's erratic behaviour has dominated the Gossip pages in the last year, with Britney making the news for shaving her head, reported drug abuse and most recently engaging in a very public custody battle with former husband Kevin Federline.

The X Factor and American Idol judge had previously expressed support for the Toxic star, saying he believed a spell away from the Madness of Los Angeles could help the 26-year-old clear her head and concentrate on the real priorities in her life.

But with Spears' recent relationship with photographer Adnan Ghalib apparently now over, a restraining order issued and the starlet reportedly speaking in a British accent, Cowell has now poured scorn on the claims that she is suffering from mental illness.

"Everyone thinks it's breakdown this and breakdown that. From the kind of stunts she's pulling now, I think she is the puppet master and completely in control," Cowell told

"I really felt for her at one point, I thought she was heading for a meltdown and everything was out of control, but, especially over the past week, I thought she was honestly in control and, more to the point, wants to be in control.

"If you don't want to get any press attention, just keep your head down, don't drive yourself anywhere and sit in the back of blacked-out limousine. But if she thinks she knows what she is doing, then good luck to her."

22/01/2008 10:18:20