Unfortunately for King's bank balance, Skeffington-Lodge failed to see the joke and took his grievance to Lord Hailsham, who apparently advised that he had a case for taking out an injunction to have the book withdrawn. It may well have been because Skeffington-Lodge had proposed himself to both Lords Attlee and Longford for a peerage that he felt he could not afford to have his character maligned in a novel. Francis King had given him only a DBE.
When King rather foolishly wrote a letter of apology, Skeffington-Lodge was swift to wave it in front of lawyers. King was advised to settle out of court, and proceeded to rewrite A Domestic Animal, each fresh paragraph being pored over by Skeffington-Lodge. King's legal bill became so large he was compelled to sell his Brighton home.
Francis King eventually rescued something from the rubble: in 1978 he wrote another novel, The Action, which told the whole sorry tale. Skeffington-Lodge never comprehended the damage he had done, financially or emotionally, and even made an appearance at a book-signing session in Brighton when King published his autobiography Yesterday Came Suddenly last year.