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ABC apology to Ita s first husband
Cleo Queen Asher Keddie plays Ita Buttrose in Paper Giants. Picture: Supplied.

The ABC has unreservedly apologised to the first husband of magazine publisher Ita Buttrose for suggesting he abandoned her at the time of the birth of their second child.

Alasdair Macdonald sued the national broadcaster in the NSW Supreme Court over the way he was portrayed in the mini-series Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo.

But on Monday his lawyer Bruce McClintock, SC, told Justice Henric Nicholas the parties had settled the case.

He read out an apology from the ABC and Southern Star, as well as a statement from Mr Macdonald.

"In marriage the worst thing a husband can be accused of is deserting his wife while she is pregnant, and in my case, deserting my wife and young daughter at that time, especially if it is not true," Mr Macdonald said.

"I brought these proceedings to remove once and for all the slur that was cast on my reputation by the mini-series."

He said he had the pain of explaining to their adult children, friends, relatives, associates, clients and strangers that what had been screened was not true.

"A shadow was cast over me and I was unable to go from one day to the next without thinking about it and being distressed, angered and saddened.

"The apology tells everyone that the shadow should never have been put upon me."

The ABC withdrew the abandonment suggestions unreservedly and apologised to Mr Macdonald and his family for them.

The judge congratulated the parties on reaching a settlement.