An MP was forced to abandon his family holiday in Greece because of forest fires which ripped through coastal resorts.

David Kidney (Lab Stafford), his wife and their two children were evacuated from Halkidiki, in northern Greece, after fires raged along a nine-mile stretch of coastline.

Thousands of tourists were forced to seek sanctuary on beaches to escape the flames, and one German tourist died of an apparent heart attack.

Mr Kidney was one of among 1,500 British tourists in the area, along with his wife, Elaine, and their grown-up children, Robert and Katy.

He said: "We flew out of Birmingham to Thessaloniki in northern Greece on Monday afternoon.

"When we got there the tour guide said that it was not safe to go to our hotel on the Kassandra Peninsula that night. Instead, we were put up in a hotel in the city centre.

"The next day we were all told that it was safe to travel to our resorts. We packed our bags, checked out of our hotel and some even got on coaches to start their delayed journey.

"But then, suddenly, everything was off again. Thomson staff said that new fires had started and once again it was not safe to travel.

"Indeed, we met holiday-makers who had been evacuated out of the resorts and who told frightening stories of being surrounded by flames."

By early Wednesday morning, tour company Thomson told the MP it had no choice but to fly him back to Britain.

"We got back to England to find heavy rain and even thunder and lightning. I was looking forward to a restful seven days and nights doing nothing more exerting than reading and sunbathing. Instead, this year's summer holiday will be memorable for its shortness!

"I do feel sorry for the residents and small businesses hit by the fires, the Thomson representatives who did such a difficult job well under considerable stress, and my fellow-travellers who were remarkably composed under the circumstances - clear evidence that the spirit of the British 'stiff upper lip' is alive and well."

Thomson had refunded the full cost of the holiday, he said.

With the party conference season approaching, Mr Kidney is unlikely to find time for a break before Christmas.

The flames destroyed about 9,000 acres of forest on the Halkidiki peninsula.

Several dozen people received hospital treatment for breathing difficulties and burns but there were no British casualties.