LONDON – LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister David Cameron's father died in France on Wednesday after suffering a stroke while on vacation, the leader's office said.
Cameron flew to a hospital in Toulon in southern France to be at his 77-year-old father's side, spokesman Steve Field told reporters.
"It is with deep regret we can confirm that Ian Cameron died earlier this afternoon. He passed away shortly after the prime minister arrived at the hospital in France where he was undergoing treatment," Cameron's office said in a statement.
It said Ian Cameron had suffered "a stroke and heart complications while on holiday."
Field said Cameron planned to stay in France overnight but remained in charge of British affairs.
Cameron's father, a retired stockbroker, previously had both of his legs amputated and used a wheelchair.
In an interview before winning Britain's election in May, Cameron described his father's refusal to allow his disability to impede his life.
"My father is a huge hero figure for me. He's an amazingly brave man because he was born with no heels — quite a disability," Cameron told ITV television. "I think I got my sense of optimism from him."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy provided a helicopter to transport Cameron from a French airport to the hospital as he rushed from London to see his father, Field said.
An official in Sarkozy's office confirmed the president had offered Cameron lodging at the Fort de Bregancon, a former fortress jutting out from the shore of the French Riviera that is used as a holiday retreat by French presidents. The official could not be named according to presidential policy.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero sent a telegram to Cameron expressing his "deepest condolences."
Cameron canceled meetings and an appearance to answer questions from lawmakers to travel to France with his brother and other family members. His wife and children stayed home.
The British leader had just returned to work Tuesday following the birth of his fourth child — Florence Rose Endellion Cameron — on Aug. 24.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg stood in for the 43-year-old Cameron at the House of Commons questions session, the weekly showdown that offers lawmakers the chance to directly address the prime minister.
Associated Press Writer Jenny Barchfield in Paris contributed to this report. Claude Paris reported from Toulon, France