A senior Labor minister has been forced into an embarrassing apology after claiming a shire president was “too busy fishing” for a meeting — when he was actually on leave to be with his seriously ill wife. Corrective Services Minister Bill Johnston is now facing calls for his resignation after he made the outrageous claims about Shire of Broome president Harold Tracey. And to make matters worse his about-face only occurred after his colleague, Kimberley MP Divina D’Anna, called Mr Tracey to apologise on Mr Johnston’s behalf. The spat started after a fiery radio interview in which Mr Johnston was pressed on the State Government’s consultation about the location of Broome’s new prison. Mr Johnston was accused of not consulting the Shire of Broome on plans to build it on the outskirts of town and then took aim at Mr Tracey, who had been vocal about the lack of communication. “The shire president refused to meet with the department. He said he was too busy fishing,” Mr Johnston said. But Mr Tracey had been on an extended leave of absence at the time to care for his wife, who was having cancer treatment in Perth. And Mr Tracey said that not only were the comments untrue, but he claimed a request to meet had never even been made. “It’s a bald-faced lie,” he said. A spokesperson from Mr Johnston’s office said his statement was made based on inaccurate information provided to him by the Department of Justice. “The minister retracts this statement and apologises unreservedly to the shire president,” the spokesperson said. “He looks forward to working with the Broome community and the shire on this important project.” Mr Tracey said he believed a resignation was the only appropriate course of action.